Press Release: Over 40 organizations call on Assembly Members Evan Low and Alex Lee to cease engaging with far-right groups, educate themselves on the issue of caste, and express their full support for SB403 without delay or dilution.
August 23, 2023: Transcending lines of faith, ethnicity, and race, 44 organizations based in the Bay Area and beyond expressed their support for SB403 and the fight to end caste discrimination. The organizations, which included all 23 members of the America Against Caste Discrimination (AACD) coalition, as well as a number of SF Bay-Area based Asian-American and LGBTQ+ groups, expressed their deep solidarity with the fight against caste discrimination as an integral part of our broader struggle for civil rights. Pointing to the chilling similarities between arguments made by Hindu Supremacist groups that oppose legislation to end caste discrimination, and far-right language attacking queer and trans people, movements for reproductive justice, and the censoring of ethnic studies and critical race theory across the US, the organizations urged Assembly Members Low and Lee to distance themselves from these networks and stand in support of caste-oppressed groups in California.
The letter, noting that SB403 is likely to arrive on the floor for a vote soon, made three demands of Assembly Members Low and Lee:
- That Assembly Members Low and Lee withdraw their proposal for a “study bill” and a “pause” on legislation like SB403. The letter argued that the claim that further research is required on caste is an insult to the suffering and testimony of many caste-oppressed Californians, and ignores a body of personal, journalistic, and academic evidence about the deep-rooted presence of caste-based discrimination in California and the USA.
- That Assembly Members Low and Lee refute the argument that protecting Americans from caste discrimination will somehow amount to discrimination against Indian or South Asian Americans.
- That Assemblymembers Low and Lee educate themselves on the sources of opposition to SB403 they have been conversing with, and even enjoyed fundraisers from: Hindu Supremacist groups, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHP-A), the Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA), and the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), all organizations that Georgetown’s Bridge Institute has shown trace their roots to the extremist, Hindu supremacist organization in India, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
“It is disappointing to see that Assembly Member Lee has allowed the Hindu far-right to influence his position on SB 403,” said Selva R., a constituent of Assembly Member Alex Lee. “The fight against discrimination is not a zero-sum game. I hope Assembly Member Lee sees that protecting caste-oppressed communities is not an attack on dominant-caste communities.”
A link to the full letter can be found here.