Endorsements of Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s Ordinance to Ban Caste Discrimination in Seattle

Organizational Endorsements:

Amnesty International USA

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)

Alphabet Workers Union

UAW Local 4121

Socialist Alternative

Ambedkar Association of North America

Ambedkar International Center

Ambedkar King Study Circle

Coalition of Seattle Indian Americans

Equality Labs

Admiral Church UCC

Afghan American Community of Washington

Afghans of Puget Sound Alliance

Afghans of Seattle

Alliance of South Asians Taking Action

Al Kariim Islamic Center

Alki United Church of Christ

Ambedkarite Buddhist Association of Texas

Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance (ACDA)

Aotearoa Alliance of Progressive Indians

API Chaya

Asian American Disinformation Table

Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS)

Awake Church, Seattle

Begumpura Cultural Society

BIPOC ED Coalition

Boston Study Group

Byrd Barr Place


Casa Latina

Central Washington Justice For Our Neighbors

Chetna Association of Canada

Chicago Coalition for Human Rights in India

Church Council of Greater Seattle

Centro Cultural Mexicano

Colectiva Legal del Pueblo

Columbia City Church of Hope

Degh Tegh Community Kitchen

DFW Shri Guru Ravidass Organization

DRUM – Desis Rising Up & Moving

Dr. Ambedkar Education Society

Eastside For All

El Centro de la Raza

Equal Health’s Campaign Against Racism (CAR)

Faith Action Network (FAN)

First AME Church

Gethsemane Lutheran Church

Global NRI Forum

Gurudwara Nanak Darbar

Gurudwara Sacha Marg

Gurudwara Singh Sabha of Washington

Gurudwara Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur

Guru Ravidass Sabha

Hate Free Delridge

Hindus for Human Rights

Humanism Project, Australia

Husaynia Islamic Society of Seattle

Immanuel Lutheran Church (ELCA)

India Civil Watch International

India Labour Solidarity

Indian American Community Services (formerly India Association of Western Washington)

Indian American Muslim Council

Indian Workers Association GB

Indivisible Bainbridge Island

Indivisible Eastside (WA)

Indivisible Plus Washington

Indivisible Washington’s 8th District

International Bahujan Organization

International Solidarity for Academic

Feminist Critical Hindu Studies Collective

Freedom in India (InSAF India)

Iraqi Community Center of Washington

Islamic Center of Olympia

Islamic Center of Tacoma

Islamic Community Center of Anchorage Alaska

Jewish Voice for Peace – Seattle Chapter

Kadima Reconstructionist Community

Khalra Mission Organization

Khalsa Gurmat Center

Khalsa University

Khalsa Academy

King County Jews Against Antisemitism

Lavender Phoenix

La Resistencia

League of Women Voters, Seattle-King County

MAPS-AMEN (American Muslim Empowerment Network)

Maranatha Seventh-day Adventist Church

Muslim American Youth Foundation

Muslim Community and Neighborhood Association (MCNA)

Muslim Educational Trust

Muslim Forum of the Pacific Northwest

Muslims for Community Action and Support

National Academic Coalition for Caste Equity (NAACE)

Never Again Seattle

Northlake UU Church

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP)


OneAmerica Votes Muslim Council

Pacific Northwest Ambedkar Group

Paths to Understanding

People of Color Community Coalition

Periyar International

Periyar Ambedkar Study Circle

Periyar Ambedkar Thoughts Circle-Australia (PATCA)

Plateaupians For Peace

Plymouth Church United Church of Christ

Poetic Justice Foundation

Presbytery of Seattle (P.C.U.S.A)

Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice

Radha Swami Rasila Satsang Center

Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA)

Researchers and Critical Educators (RACE) from California State University Fullerton

Royal Academy of Punjab

Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus


Sammamish Muslim Association

SCM Medical Missions

Seattle Indivisible

Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha of New York

Shri Guru Ravidass Temple of Pittsburgh

Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha of Fresno

Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha of Union City

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)

Sikh Center of Seattle

Sikh Coalition

Singh Sabha Gurdwara

SOCH Center Seattle

Somali Health Board

South Asia Scholar Activist Collective (SASAC)

South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA-NA)

South Asian Behavioral Health Initiative (SABHI)

South Asian Dalit Adivasi Network, Canada

South Asians Building Accountability & Healing (SABAH)

South Asian SOAR

Stand for Children WA

Sustainability Concepts

Swaraj Abhiyan Chicago


The Chardi Kala Project

The Feminist Critical Hindu Studies Collective

The Practicing Church (WA)

Tibbetts United Methodist Church (Seattle)

UltraViolet Action

Veterans For Peace

Veza Global

WA Partners for Social Change

Wallingford Indivisible

Washington Advocates for Palestinian Rights

Washington Fair Trade Coalition

Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network (WAISN)

Washington Indivisible Podcast

WA Poor People’s Campaign

World Without Hate

Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation

Individual Endorsements:

Dr. Cornel West, Philosopher, political activist, social critic, actor, and public intellectual — Dietrich Bonhoeffer Chair at Union Theological Seminary

Arundhati Roy, Renowned Indian author and political activist in human rights and environmental justice

Noam Chomsky, American public intellectual, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist

Ajantha Subramanian, Harvard University — Mehra Family Professor of South Asian Studies, Professor of Anthropology and of South Asian Studies

  • “I offer my thoughts as a South Asian American and specialist on caste… The pervasiveness of casteism in South Asia makes its entry into American society and workplace not in the least bit surprising. Even if there is a general ignorance of caste in the U.S., South Asian social and professional networks guarantee that privilege and disadvantage continue to be reproduced here. The Cisco case and the testimonies gathered by the Ambedkar King Study Circle and Equality Labs show that the same forms of discrimination found in India – from the practice of untouchability to social exclusion and workplace discrimination – continue to thrive in the U.S. The number of Dalits testifying anonymously about their experiences attests to the fact that the stigma of caste and fear of exposure has followed them to the U.S… Unfortunately, as with all advances in civil rights, this one too is being met with opposition by constituencies who are determined to see it overturned. Their arguments are spurious… It is only by extending such protections that we can make visible caste inequality and discrimination in the U.S.  In order to protect caste-oppressed populations, we have to be willing to insist that protection against discrimination cannot stop at the minority boundary. We have to be willing to go further and recognize that there are minorities within minorities who need recognition and protection.”

Dr. Ananya Chakravarti, Georgetown University

  • “I am an associate professor of history at Georgetown University whose work centers caste in pre-modern South Asia. My most recent book project, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, also included ethnography to document the persistence of caste. Current legal frameworks cannot address this form of discrimination. Explicit recognition of caste discrimination is therefore vital. To heal from caste, we must ban it. As someone born to an upper caste family, I can assure you that the only people this ordinance affects, like all proactive forms of legal redress for discrimination, are the bigoted. This ordinance will ensure Seattle is a welcoming city for all and ensure its place in US civil rights history.”

Veena Dubal, Ph.D., J.D., University of California College of the Law, San Francisco — Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University (2022-2023) | Professor of Law

Arjun Singh Sethi, Georgetown University Law Center — Adjunct Professor of Law

Dr. Nalini Iyer, Ph.D., Seattle University — Professor of English

  • “I write in support of the ordinance to ban caste-based discrimination in Seattle and urge you all to vote YES and pass the first-in-the-nation legislation to ban caste-based discrimination in Seattle… As an academic, I specialize in South Asian studies. I am the co-author of the well-known cultural history of South Asian immigration, Roots and Reflections: South Asians in the Pacific Northwest ( University of Washington Press, 2013) and serve as Editor in Chief of the academic journal South Asian Review. I also teach courses that include writing by Dalit authors and write about caste and its intersections with race and gender. From that standpoint, I believe that this ordinance to ban caste discrimination is a very important first step in making Seattle a progressive, inclusive, and welcoming place for those historically marginalized by the violence of caste.”

Dr. Gitika Talwar, Ph.D., Univ. of Washington

  • “I am writing in my capacity as a Community-Clinical Psychologist who serves the student community at University of Washington-Seattle. I am also a first-generation immigrant from India, a Hindu and a practising Buddhist… Through years of work with the South Asian community, I recognize the indelible impact of caste oppression on folks who identify as Dalit. I have known how upper-caste communities continue to invalidate Dalit struggles and continue outright oppression by opposing Dalit efforts to fight discrimination. Upper-caste notions of impurity and dehumanization of Dalits is extremely nuanced and can be invisible to the untrained eye (i.e. non-South Asian folks and also caste-privileged folks unfamiliar with caste oppression), which is why is very very important for the Seattle City Council to take the lead on banning discrimination based on Caste. Explicitly naming this will help folks who experience caste discrimination in Seattle to seek redressal of their grievances if caste-oppression occurs.”

Radhika Govindrajan, Univ. of Washington — Associate Professor of Anthropology and International Studies

  • “As a recent case against Cisco in a California Court (and the various Dalit testimonies that accompanied it) further demonstrated, discrimination by dominant castes against oppressed castes is ongoing in the American workplace. Adding caste to existing anti-discrimination laws will extend and deepen their impact, and offer more meaningful protection to members of oppressed-caste groups who have struggled to make their experiences of caste-based discrimination legible in the United States… Those who oppose such legislation often do so on the grounds that it is ‘Hinduphobic’ and will increase racial and religious discrimination against Hindus. However, many of the individuals who have experienced caste discrimination are themselves Hindu; in fact, they experience a ‘double discrimination’ being not just members of racially minoritized groups but also oppressed caste groups.”

Dr. Sareeta Amrute, Univ. of Washington & Parson — Associate Professor of Design Strategy at Parson, The New School & Affiliate Associate Professor at the University of Washington. Author of a study on race and technology called Encoding Race Encoding Class: Indian IT workers in Berlin.

Christian Novetzke, Univ. of Washington — Faculty in South Asia Studies in the Jackson School of International Studies

Sunila Kale, Univ. of Washington —  Faculty in South Asian Studies at the Jackson School of International Studies

Dr. Professor Vivek Bahl, Ph.D., River Green College, Auburn, WA — English Faculty

  • “I write to you today seeking your support for the Seattle City Council’s proposed ordinance to ban caste-based discrimination in the City of Seattle. I stand in solidarity with South Asian and other immigrant community members and all working people.”

Sonja Thomas, Colby College — Associate Professor, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies

Jeremy Rinker, Ph.D., Univ. of North Carolina Greensboro — Associate Professor & Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies

  • “I have spent the last two decades reading and writing about caste and anti-caste activism around the world… It is often assumed that protections for religious and/or national origin would suffice to protect low-caste peoples from facing such discrimination in the United States. My research and discussion with caste-affected colleagues in India and the United States (including in Seattle) has shown that this simply is not the case. Caste is distinct from religion, national, or other marginal identities and, though operating sociologically in similar ways as racial discrimination, is actually not as visible as race as a marker of social difference. For this reason, I think your move to ban caste-based discrimination in Seattle is an important symbolic and actual response to manage the immediate and long-term impacts of caste discrimination.”

Rank-and-file member of Alphabet Workers Union

  • “I urge you to vote YES to the caste ordinance. I write this email with a great deal of admiration and hope because you have chosen to tackle the issue of caste discrimination. Our union has also urged for the same, and understands that caste is a workers rights issue. Caste discrimination additionally intersects with workers facing discrimination along the lines of gender, sexual orientation, immigration status etc. Caste protections are also a step in the right direction to protect contract workers who are a big part of the tech workforce. I see Seattle as a place for fairness and equality, and hope that we will take a step forward through this ordinance. This ordinance is nothing short of HISTORIC.

Alok, Dalit tech worker

  • “I live in Seattle and I work here in a large, trillion-dollar technology company. I belong to one of the many oppressed Dalit castes and have experienced and seen those close to me experience the trauma, the stigma, and the oppression of the caste system throughout most of my life… However UNLIKE the other marginalized communities in the US, that are protected under the law and have a discourse for standing against racial, gender and other forms of discrimination, Dalit community largely remains hidden and suffers through it silently. Two years ago, a person at my workplace, who was subject to caste-based discrimination shared their story, anonymously, and with a lot of courage, with the leaders in the company. But it fell on deaf ears with vague promises of “doing better” but had no consequences. When a group of us urged the company to add “caste” to the anti-discrimination policy, I was told by some that “this is not a place for activism” – not in my backyard they said, for the fear of lending voice to this community and disrupting the perceived norm… I sincerely urge the council members to unanimously approve the ordinance to make caste discrimination illegal in Seattle. This will not only give a voice to us and let us be our true self without hiding our identity; but also, will have a ripple effect throughout the state, the nation and even globally as these large companies are required to amend their policies.”

Anita, Dalit activist

  • “I write to you as a Dalit person born and raised in the Diaspora. My family came to North America in 1906, and has been reported as the first Dalit family to land on Turtle Island. I can tell you from my personal experience, from my families history and from the lived experiences of my family now and the younger generations – CASTE DISCRIMINATION DOES EXIST… The power that a legislation like this gives to counter-attack and protect the human rights of thousands is transformative. This is not Hinduphobic, as caste exists beyond religions. I am a Punjabi Sikh and it exists within my community as well. It exists in Muslims, in Buddhists, in Atheists. The reason there is so much push back, is because like in the civil rights movement, people are losing their power to dominate and oppress… I ask you to vote in the favor of human rights, in equity and justice.  I urge you to vote YES to ban CASTE based discrimination that Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s office has brought forward. A ban on caste discrimination will protect oppressed caste people, their family, and their children from the gross injustices they endure on a daily basis, here in the US.”

Ganga, Dalit worker

  • “I am a naturalized US citizen from India supposed to be a caste oppressed with in the  caste embedded Hindu community. I left India to be away from the caste discrimination from dominant castes. But here in Seattle too I have experienced when used to consult for a major supplier to a truck manufacturer. The dominant Indian caste Hindu manager has always had this discriminative attitude as he know my caste background. I am happy to know that Seattle is leading to ban caste discrimination by bringing an ordinance to include caste as a protected category. I also would like to record my bad experiences in Seattle by dominant caste Hindus from India.”

Nirmal, caste-oppressed community member

  • “I write to you as a member of the caste oppressed Ravidasia community. I urge you to vote YES to ban CASTE based discrimination that Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s office has brought forward. A ban on caste discrimination will protect oppressed caste people such as myself, my family, and my children from the gross injustices we endure on a daily basis, here in the US. As Martin Luther King Jr., said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, I URGE you to vote YES to ban CASTE-based discrimination, thus making Seattle the first city in the country to do this.”

Dr. Ankita Nikalje, Ph.D., Univ. of Wisconsin – Milwaukee — Assistant Professor in Counseling Psychology

  • “As a mental health researcher, educator, and practitioner, the painful impact of the structural violence of caste discrimination is evident among South Asians and South Asian Americans across the diaspora. However, there are NO protections for those who are most marginalized by this deep inequity. I strongly request you to vote YES to the caste ordinance.”

Dr. Gaurav Sabnis, Stevens Institute of Technology, NJ — Associate Professor of Marketing at the School of Business

  • “I write to you as an American citizen of Indian origin hoping to raise awareness about caste based discrimination that is rampant in much of the world and also in the United States… Existing legal protections are inadequate to protect caste-based discrimination given the victim’s intersectionality of marginalization and that their discrimination happens at the hands of the people of their same race… Contrarian views would hold that such a law would be anti-Hindu. Nothing could be further from the truth – caste cuts across religions and the protection would apply to oppressed castes of Hindus and non-Hindus alike. Another contrarian claim is that such a law would unfairly target Indian or South Asian communities. That would be as laughable as saying sexual discrimination laws unfairly target men or that transgender protection laws unfairly target cisgendered people… Seattle has the fastest growing South Asian population of any city in America, and consequently is the city that most needs this law to protect more of its citizens. With this law, Seattle would be honoring its commitment to its residents, workers, and visitors, many of whom are minority South Asian caste-oppressed people who don’t have legal protections. It would be setting a precedent for the rest of the nation to follow.”

Shailaja Paik, Univ. of Cincinnati — Taft Distinguished Professor of History and Affiliate Faculty in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Asian Studies

Siddhartha Valicharla — Writer, Producer, and Educator from the Indian Untouchable Community

Snehal Kumar, PhD NYS Licensed Psychologist, New York City

Radhika Sehgal, Ph.D. — Staff Psychologist at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

Dr. Roja Singh, St. John Fisher College — Assistant Professor | President, Dalit Solidarity Forum in the USA | Executive Council, India Civil Watch International, USA | South Asian Feminist Collective

Smita Narula, Pace University — Haub Distinguished Professor of International Law | Co-Director, Global Center for Environmental Legal Studies | Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University

Dr. Dheepa Sundaram, PhD, University of Denver — Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Meeta Murthi, Univ. of Cincinnati College of Medicine — Faculty at the Osher Center for Integrative Health and Wellness

Jaya Mallela, University of Florida — Graduate Student, Pediatric Behavioral Health Lab, Department of Clinical & Health Psychology

Jaya Ramesh, LMHC, Seattle

  • “I’m writing in my capacity as a mental health professional who works with the south Asian community in the greater Seattle area. As a South Indian woman who has benefited from caste privilege, I support this ordinance to ban caste based discrimination. Any kind of oppression is deleterious to mental health and caste is no exception.”

Margaret Fisher, LICSW, Seattle

  • “I am a psychotherapist in private practice in Seattle. I’m writing in my capacity as a mental health professional to ask the city council to vote yes on the ordinance to ban caste discrimination. Mental wellness is not solely linked to a person’s neurochemistry or biological makeup; it cannot and should not be divorced from our larger societal and political context. Simply put, oppression in all forms deleteriously impacts mental health—and caste-based oppression is no exception.”

Dr. Sylvia Karpagam

  • “I am a public health doctor and researcher based out of India and endorse the Caste ordinance introduced in Seattle City Council. It is much needed and I hope it sets a precedent to addressing caste based discrimination everywhere.”

Tami Lentz, Migrant Graduation Specialist, Snohomish School District

Amar Shergill, California Democratic Party Executive Board Member and Progressive Caucus Chair

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