What I work on when I’m not working #9

A question of caste

I am not venturing into the entire caste debate here. Suffice to say that I dislike the concept, and feel utterly disgusted when any person refers to his/her caste as part of their identity. Despite this, I recognise that I am frequently as racist any other person – wrapped up and bogged down as I am from ideologies and concepts handed down to me from generations. But I am consciously trying my best to erase, as much as possible, the question of caste from my language, my behaviour and my interactions with people. So I was quite surprised at my reaction to a “dalit” activist I was reading about. I found myself constantly probing her name in an attempt to pinpoint her caste. I felt contemptuous of her anti-caste activism, and wanted to justify my reaction. It was, as if, I would be justified in my contempt if she turned out to be an “upper caste/ Brahmin”. It would expose her as an impersonator, a sham. Someone who had jumped on the bandwagon because it was chic – but could never actually know what it meant to be a dalit.
Actually, I know that whatever her “caste” maybe – it does not mean a thing. It need not bother me what the activist does – as long as it’s not harming the cause. And any day, raising the tenor of debate on the caste question is better than sitting in a box, and writing drivel all day long. And probably I was merely jealous. But it sure is a bother that try as one might, the question of caste pops up in unexpected ways. And I’m very ashamed to admit that for all my anti-caste protestations, I caught myself wondering about the caste of a person. I am truly ashamed and sorry about it. I wonder if writing this, and putting it out will make a difference.


About whizkid

Photographer. Procrastinator.
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4 Responses to What I work on when I’m not working #9

  1. Ms. Becky says:

    oh yes, I believe it will. it will open the door for you to forgive yourself. the first step in any journey of self-discovery and awareness. beautiful post. it’s raw and courageous and brutally honest. thanks for sharing. it humbles me.

  2. whizkid says:

    thanks so much for your support Ms. Becky. really appreciate it.

  3. R says:

    its the year of conditioning : the way we are brought up. Will take time to unlearn…but this thing about us scares me too… we blame others of being hippocrates but scratch our core and we are as much racist as anybody else…wish i had an answer to your doubt…but i guess sharing helps 🙂

  4. whizkid says:

    unlearning – thats the thing to do, even tho its difficult.

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