Breaking the Chains: Fighting Caste Oppression with Thenmozhi Soundararajan

From grassroots movements to political advocacy, explore the powerful journey of Dalit activists working towards dismantling caste oppression.

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Shatter the silence surrounding caste discrimination in US-based South Asian communities.
  • Delve into the world of Dalit rights activism to understand the struggle against centuries-old caste subjugation.
  • Grasp why legislation against caste discrimination in California could be a game changer.
  • Realize the paramount importance of caste equity competency in breaking down workplace barriers.
  • Get attuned to how somatics can mend the psychological wounds inflicted by caste discrimination over generations.

My special guest is Thenmozhi Soundararajan

Joining the conversation is Thenmozhi Soundararajan, a Dalit rights activist born in the heart of East Los Angeles, bringing a fresh perspective to igniting change for Indian Americans and marginalized communities. Raised in the harsh reality of structural casteism, she uses her lived experiences as the foundation of her fight against this persistent issue. Additionally, she is admired for her talents as a transmedia storyteller, songwriter, writer, hip-hop musician, technologist, and author of The Trauma of Caste: A Dalit Feminist Meditation on Survivorship, Healing, and Abolition. Her story and experiences form an intricate tapestry of struggle, resilience, and commitment, making her an invaluable guest on the topic of Dalit rights and caste discrimination.

The key moments in this episode are:

00:00:02 – Introduction
00:01:19 – Guest Introduction
00:03:40 – What is Caste?
00:07:19 – Caste Discrimination in the US
00:09:19 – Personal Experience and Hiding Identity
00:16:46 – Addressing Misconceptions about Trafficking
00:17:20 – Structural Caste and Sexual Exploitation
00:18:19 – The Need for Civil Rights Organizations
00:19:35 – Discrimination and the Fight for Caste Equity
00:24:35 – Caste as a Protected Category
00:32:28 – The Impact of Caste Oppression
00:34:09 – Changing Hearts and Minds
00:35:11 – Discrimination within South Asian Communities
00:37:54 – Groundbreaking Conversations and Unity
00:39:10 – Responding to Denial of Caste

The resources mentioned in this episode are:

  • Go to the website to listen to more episodes of the show and engage in conversations about race.
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  • To understand more about caste and Dalit rights, visit Equality Labs, an organization fighting for caste equity and civil rights. Learn about their work and support their cause.
  • Support the coalition led by Equality Labs and Senator Ayesha Wahab to make California the first state to ban caste discrimination. Stay updated on their progress and join their efforts.


Guest Bio

Thenmozhi Soundararajan is a Dalit rights activist based in the United States. She is a transmedia storyteller, songwriter, hip-hop musician and technologist. She founded Equality Labs, which “is an Ambedkarite South Asian power-building organization that uses community research, political base-building, culture-shifting art, and digital security to end the oppression of caste apartheid, Islamophobia, white supremacy, and religious intolerance.” Her work and writings against caste oppression in the United States have been featured in The New York Times and The Washington Post.


Host Bio

Simma Lieberman, The Inclusionist helps leaders create inclusive cultures. She is a consultant, speaker and facilitator and the host of the podcast, “Everyday Conversations on Race for Everyday People.”


Go to and for more information

Simma is a member of and inspired by the global organization IAC (Inclusion Allies Coalition) 


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