Navigating casteism at university, within Telugu diaspora and at IBM: In conversation with Suresh Attri

Nov 16, 2020, 12:30 PM
~ I asked, ‘After you graduate would you care about your identity or would you reveal it if somebody is abusing Dalits in general?’ They said, ‘No, the Telugu community is very strong in the Tech circle. They will use this connection to get a job and if anybody in the Telugu community finds out they are Dalits, it is going to have major, major repercussions for their professional career as well.’ What was shocking to me was that, yes my peers were silently suffering casteist abuse by pretending to hide their identity, by pretending to be what they were not. Also, they were already scared before they've entered the workforce. I further asked them if they would ever divulge that their identity, eventually. They said, "No, we want to make sure we have a good career and good connections to get a job which will stay. If we out ourselves, they will kick us out of from their niche tech circles." ~ 

This is a conversation that took place between Suresh Attri and his peers, while they were studying at a university in the US. The students Suresh is talking to here, witnessed him getting into a confrontation with two Indians who were indulging in casteist behaviour. They later approached him and requested him not to get embroiled in such confrontations, as the repercussions would be severe. On further prodding, it dawns on Suresh that the ones warning him off were Dalits themselves. 

Listen to the full episode of Caste in the USA to find out more about Suresh's experiences of casteism in American universities, within Telugu circles in the US and among friends.