- We held some 700 advocacy meetings, sent tens of thousands of emails and as many calls, led a historic statewide caravan, convened multiple town halls, and organized countless protests across the state.
As SB 403 has landed on the Governor’s desk, I am reflecting on just how powerful the California Coalition for Caste Equity has been in pushing for protections against caste discrimination. We brought together hundreds of organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Californians with labor groups, civil rights organizations, legal professionals, and small businesses across the state–all dedicated to changing our community for the better. We held some 700 advocacy meetings, sent tens of thousands of emails and as many calls, led a historic statewide caravan, convened multiple town halls, organized countless protests across the state, and are now engaged in an ongoing hunger strike that is the first in American civil rights history for caste equity. It was all awe-inspiring and remarkable.
This level of community organizing was required to unearth the difficult and entrenched global caste systems operating in California. Caste-based discrimination has deep roots in many societies, perpetuating inequality and injustice for millions of people. To dismantle these oppressive systems, organizing for caste equity stands as a crucial and transformative endeavor. It is a call to action, a rallying cry for justice, and a testament to the indomitable spirit of those who refuse to accept the dehumanization and instead choose love, healing, and unity.
SB 403 challenges the deeply ingrained norms that have, for generations, relegated individuals to a predetermined fate based on their birth. Through organizing, we break the shackles of a caste, which would deny dignity, opportunity, and basic human rights to hundreds of thousands of Californians.
At its core, the caste equity movement demands recognition of the inherent worth and potential of every human being. It seeks to create a society where talent and merit, rather than birthright or bloodline, determine a person’s opportunities and outcomes.
We seek to amplify the voices of those who have been marginalized and oppressed. We provide a platform for individuals to share their experiences, articulate their grievances, and demand justice. Through this collective voice, the movement gains strength, and its message reverberates across communities, regions, and the world.
Moreover, organizing for SB403 challenges the pervasive myth that change is impossible. History has shown us that collective action has the power to dismantle even the most entrenched systems of oppression. From the civil rights movements to anti-apartheid struggles, we have witnessed the remarkable impact of organized movements in reshaping societies for the better.
This movement is not just a fight against discrimination; it is a fight for the very soul of our communities. Thus, we call upon all citizens, regardless of caste, race, gender, or sexual orientation to stand in solidarity and acknowledge the urgent need for change. A society’s true strength lies in its ability to uphold the principles of justice, equality, and dignity for all.
Organizing for caste equity is not without its challenges. It requires courage, perseverance, and a willingness to confront the bigotry of the privileged. Our campaign faced brutal violence and prejudice. And yet we held fast to a vision of love and healing, meeting our opposition’s violence with a commitment to reconciliation. We hope to inspire courageous conversations around the dismantling of unearned caste privilege.
In the face of centuries-old injustices, organizing in support of SB 403 has been a beacon of hope. Change is not only possible but imperative. We are making a promise to future generations that they need not be bound by the chains of their ancestors’ oppression. Together, through collective action and unwavering determination, we can build a society where every individual is afforded the respect, dignity, and opportunities they deserve. It was an honor to be part of this movement, and I cannot wait to see what our community can do next. Jai Bhim!
Karmegam Karmegan is a technologist committed to ending caste and racial discrimination and works at the intersection of tech, equity, and social justice. She is a proud member of the Californians for Caste Equity Coalition.