Date and Time
Feb 22, 2024 7:00 pm
14th & V
Born into a “formerly untouchable manual-scavenging family in small-town India,” Yashica Dutt was taught from a young age to not appear “Dalit looking.” Although prejudice against Dalits, who compose 25% of the population, has been illegal since 1950, caste-ism in India is alive and well. Blending her personal history with extensive research and reporting, Dutt provides an incriminating analysis of caste’s influence in India over everything from entertainment to judicial systems and how this discrimination has carried over to US institutions.
Dutt traces how colonial British forces exploited and perpetuated a centuries-old caste system, how Gandhi could have been more forceful in combating prejudice, and the role played by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, whom Isabel Wilkerson called “the MLK of India’s caste issues’’ in her book CASTE. Alongside her analysis, Dutt interweaves personal stories of learning to speak without a regional accent growing up and desperately using medicinal packs to try to lighten her skin.
Published in India in 2019 to acclaim, this expanded edition includes 2 new chapters covering how the caste system traveled to the US, its history here, and the continuation of bias by South Asian communities in professional sectors. Amid growing conversations about caste discrimination prompting US institutions including Harvard University, Brandeis University, the University of California system, and the NAACP to add caste as a protected category to their policies, Dutt’s work sheds essential light on the significant influence caste-ism has across many aspects of US society. Raw and affecting, Coming Out as Dalit brings a new audience of readers into a crucial conversation about embracing Dalit identity, offering a way to change the way people think about caste in their own communities and beyond.
Yashica Dutt is joining us on the Busboys stage to share her life experiences and research into caste-ism, both in India and in the United States. Copies of the book will be available for purchase during and after the event, and Dutt will be signing following the program.
This event is free to guests who RSVP in advance. You must RSVP in order to gain entrance into the event space. We will not allow guests in without RSVP-ing through this Eventbrite page. Our program begins at 6:00 pm, and will be followed by an audience Q&A. Copies of COMING OUT AS DALIT will be available for purchase before and after the event. Please note that this event is in person and will not be livestreamed.
Guests must RSVP in order to receive direct updates about the event from Busboys and Poets Books
Yashica Dutt is a journalist, an activist, an award-winning writer, and a leading feminist voice on caste. Born “in a formerly untouchable ‘lower’ caste family,” she passed as dominant caste to survive discrimination. Dutt moved to New Delhi at 17 and became one of the most widely-read culture journalists at a leading English language paper. Eventually coming out as Dalit, she introduced this expression which powerfully resonated in India. Her site, Documents of Dalit Discrimination, was among the first highly visible media spaces for caste oppressed people. Dutt’s work has been published in the New York Times, Foreign Policy and the Atlantic, and she has been featured on The BBC, The Guardian, and PBS NewsHour. Dutt lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Gaurav J. Pathania, a sociology professor at Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia, focuses on studying caste, class, and racial discrimination within diaspora communities. He is the author of "The University as a Site of Resistance'' (Oxford University Press) and serves as the deputy editor at the 'South Asia Research' Journal. Gaurav is also known as anti-caste activist, poet and writer. He recently made his debut in Ava DuVernay's 2024 film 'ORIGIN.'