The Silicon Valley Democratic Socialists of America Chapter Committee condemns the amendments proposed by SV-DSA member and District 24 State Assemblymember Alex Lee to SB 403, the anti-caste-discrimination bill endorsed by SV-DSA. While Lee’s proposed amendments were not all adopted as such, they added to a chorus of voices that unacceptably weakened the bill as it moved through the legislative process. Groups like the Hindu American Foundation and Vishva Hindu Parishad, which have long opposed anti-caste-discrimination laws, celebrated this result as a victory.
In a June 20 letter (co-authored with AD 26’s Evan Low), Assemblymember Lee:
- Proposed a pause on the legislation for further “study,” when victims of caste discrimination need protection now.
- Echoed the minimizing rhetoric of SB 403 opponents by equating them with supporters and disputing the extent of caste oppression, despite its well-documented status.
- Argued for caste as merely a subset of ancestry. Scholarship from caste-oppressed people and allies has documented the caste system as multifaceted and irreducible to ancestry, in part due to its inextricable links to social stratification and segregation. This “subset of ancestry” line of attack is reflected in the bill’s latest amendments, and will further muddle Californians’ cultural understanding of how casteism occurs in practice.
Caste-oppressed people across California have bravely spoken up to share the ostracism and exclusion they have faced. In an environment that often culturally misunderstands their struggles and offers scant legal recourse, our response as socialists cannot be to academically “re-study” their documented lived experiences, miscategorize their oppression, or disbelieve its degree. We demand clear legal protections against all forms of discrimination that subjugate the international working class.
The Chapter Committee condemns Lee’s failure to uphold chapter priorities and socialist values. We stand in solidarity with caste-oppressed people and look forward to continuing to learn about and support their struggles.