HYDERABAD: In the words of Suraj Milind Yengde, India’s first Dalit PhD from an African university, who is currently at Harvard University, the demise of Rohith Vemula unveiled the process of strengthening Hindutva forces in India.
Yengde spoke at a talk titled ‘Dalit and Black Power: Dismantling Brahminism and White Supremacy’ at University of Hyderabad on Wednesday, where he was joined by co-panelists Karlene Griffiths Sekou, an organiser of Black Lives Matter movement in the USA and Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman, a scholar activist in Black Studies with Birmingham City University, England.
Commenting on the recent Presidential elections, Yengde said President Ram Nath Kovind and Meira Kumar, both Dalits, are only ‘poster Dalits’ appropriated by Brahmins.
Coleman, who studied Dr BR Ambedkar’s work, drawing parallels to the black rights’ movement in India, pointed out that African-Americans were keenly reading about Dalit rights even in the late 19th century.
Sekou added saying, “Black power is Dalit power.” He said that the American civil rights movement, which was led by Martin Luther King Jr in America, had been “sanitised” and that the heroes of the movement have been sidelined.
Drawing parellels between feminist movements in India and the USA, Coleman said, “In a society dominated by Brahmins, the Dalit woman is reduced to an identity, to a word, to a thing and similar is the status of black women in a society dominated by whites.”
Yengde added to it saying that Savitribai Phule is the ideal role model for any woman in India but she has been suppressed.