The Harvard Fellow says he talks about Dalit oppression because it exists, not to offend people
"When we talk about impatience within the Dalit community, we have to understand where it comes from," Suraj Yengde said at the launch of his new book Caste Matters at the India Habitat Centre, Delhi, “Why does Bezwada Wilson, who fights for the rights and basic dignity of manual scavengers, seem impatient? Because the system that exploits you is the same system that asks you to slow down your voice. To write an application and wait for your turn to be heard. But we want justice now. Nobody is oppressing us tomorrow, the oppression is happening right now. The impatience is just the lived reality of a Dalit."
As I listened to Yengde, who is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, I found myself taking furious notes. When someone who has known oppression and injustice articulates his experience of being marginalized, it resonates deeply. Everyone has his or her own experience of being marginalized or diminished and hearing someone else articulate that experience resonates with one’s own.
I met Yengde a few days later to discuss his extraordinary journey from a childhood marked by poverty and caste discrimination in Nanded, Maharashtra, to an adulthood that includes studying in four continents and his current position at Harvard University. Caste Matters, published by Penguin India, is his second book. Edited excerpts from an interview:Read more
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