FINALLY IT BEGINS

After a year of fundraising and speaking in the United States to raise awareness around my film I’ve arrived in India. The making of a film is a marathon of gauntlets and surviving that first step really has prepared me to expect the unexpected and be unattached as I begin my research.

In many ways this first trip is an opening of the conversation. I believe quite strongly that the story of India is the story of caste. There is no nook or cranny of our culture that is not altered in someway by this institution that is a social category, a practice of faith, and a labor designation. It is also a social institution that is deeply in flux, and its fluid nature is a mirror of the possibilities for modern India.

I am operating with as much openness and humility as I can. I recognize I am a Dalit of the diaspora and hope to listen deeply and ask many questions without prescription. I ask all of you who are following this journey to ask and listen with me with a similar openness. Make a commitment to curiosity and a hunger to know that which you don’t know. The unknown is exactly where the work of many Dalits exist because we have been pushed to the margins by mainstream activists, academics, institutions who see us as victims as opposed to agents of our own destiny. Even worse many don’t see us at all. And this invisibility creates an opportunity for violence again and again.

So, to listen to these voices is one of the most deeply radical acts of solidarity we can commit to.
Everyday the many Dalit organizations, leaders, thinkers, and activists whom I hope to connect and highlight this year are all examples of how our invisibilty in the mainstream does not mean we are not actors in history. Quite the opposite. We are makers of an incredible destiny that has been hidden, neglected, and dispersed across many disciplines, languages, and faiths. But the coming together to share our stories, to build our collective knowledge, is the act of rebuilding our wholeness as a people.

For while the story of India may be the story of caste, the story of Dalits is about the unmaking of that narrative to find ourselves and ultimately find grace, dignity, and justice.

Thank you for walking the journey with us.

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