📚 Launching Caste Resource Pack

A collection of resources summarised by the team with reflection questions to guide users to interrogate caste and caste-privilege in our communities.

Hi folks, we’re excited to launch the first of our learning resources for our community. Following on from our anti-caste reading circle, we thought it was crucial to share learning tools for some of the key texts we discussed in the sessions.

This first resource pack contains summaries of anti-caste texts including the undelivered speech The Annihilation of Caste by Dr. Ambedkar, Gendering Caste by Uma Chakravarty and more. Each primer includes a summary of the key ideas and arguments as well as reflection questions at the end to prompt you to engage with these materials critically in your own contexts.

We encourage you to use these guides as an educational tool in your communities and study circles when discussing caste. If you want more information, have questions, or would like to let us know how you’re getting on with these resources, please drop us an email.

In solidarity & resistance,

The Rights Collective


“Caste is a multi-storeyed tower with no staircase and no entrance. Everybody had to die in the storey they were born in.” - Dr. Ambedkar

Please click on the below to be directed to each individual resource summary.

“No untouchable with the name will be proud of this land” - Dr. Ambedkar


As a volunteer-led collective, we currently have no funds to compensate our team so will be appreciative of any donations for the continued running of our work.

Donate

🌞 Join us for a Potluck Picnic!

We’re going on a collective break in July, but would love to meet our community as lockdown eases in London!

Hi folks, we hope you’re doing well and going easy on yourself this summer! As lockdown eases in London, we’re excited to finally meet our community for a potluck picnic this summer. Read below for details and how to sign up. We hope to see many of you there!

We’re also sharing a round-up of updates on our work including our workshop on unpacking anti-blackness in South Asian communities with WOC Azadi Collective, some great blogs written by our Tehreer // تحریر participants, and the final meetup in our anti-caste reading circle.

As you know, we take self and community care seriously so our team will be off on a collective break for the month of July. During this time and in August, we will be focussing on our new strategy, ready for September so watch this space for how you can input on that. Please feel free to keep in touch via our social media, and we'll see you all soon!

In solidarity,

The Rights Collective


Join us for a Potluck Picnic!

It's been a tough year and we wanted to hold space to meet our online community IRL! For all our South Asians and others in the community with us in the U.K. - if you've attended our workshops, collaborated with us, submitted to our zine, or are just curious to connect with other South Asian diasporas, we'd love to see you!

💫 Come hang out with us - there'll be food, music, good conversation, games, and more! We’ll be meeting at Regents Park on Saturday 25th of July at 1 pm.

Sign up to secure a spot at bit.ly/TRCPotluck, and see you soon!


📚Anti-Caste Reading Circle: Caste & Entertainment

Our last session of the anti-caste reading circle looked at caste and entertainment, led by Jyotsna Siddharth. We discussed Indian cinema and the portrayal of caste on screen, including in works such as Geeli Pucchi from Netflix’s Ajeeb Daastaans. We’ve included all resources and reflection questions on our website.

Access resources

As cohort one of our reading circle comes to a close, we wanted to thank our attendees for being part of this space, for their commitment to the course, and contributions over the past six months. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process and learned so much, and hope that you all found the journey useful and nourishing in your own way too. We’ll continue to share further readings and resources in this newsletter and keep an eye out for our next reading circle on transformative justice, abolition, and community accountability, starting in September!

Thanks, as always, to our facilitators Jyotsna Siddharth and Varun Khanna for their labour and effort in putting together these sessions. We hope you find these summaries helpful and please let us know how you get on!


Tehreer // تحریر co-learning session with Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan

Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan led the Tehreer // تحریر participants in a workshop that imagined a near future through poetry. There was an evening of discussions of what it means to write creatively, consider who our creative and poetic writing is for, writing prompts to explore ourselves, and writing through a different channel. Participants left feeling inspired, uplifted, and buzzing with ideas! ✨


Unpacking Anti-Blackness in South Asian Communities: Part 2

Collective members Inaya and Disha with the WOC Azadi Collective held part two of our anti-blackness workshop looking at how caste, class, and race intersect in the UK. We discussed personal accounts of growing up in England, colourism in our families, and how we embody and uphold notions of white supremacy culture.


Articles and Blogs

  • May marked a difficult anniversary for Tamils worldwide; the Tamil Genocide in Sri-Lanka saw brutal killings and enforced disappearances of the Tamil community. Tehreer // تحریر participant Abarna Selvarajah in Canada reflects on her community organising, the role of memory in mourning, abolition, and the importance of self-care work.

  • “Many of the available terms are Western in origin, and they get bent out of shape when forced into South Asian contexts. Like, the idea of ‘coming out’ and being ‘out’” - 🌈 Payal Dhar speaks to LGBTQ+ Indians on family expectations, societal pressures, and self-censorship.

  • In a capitalist 9-5 structure that places emphasis on ‘grind culture’ and the ‘next big thing’, resting is liberation. Read more here.

  • In an exclusively penned article for Vogue, Amika George explains why she accepted the MBE. Prishita Maheshwari-Aplin writes for gal-dem on why ‘accepting an award from the literal head of the empire reeks of disingenuity’ from those who are self-proclaimed ‘anti-imperialists’. Read now.


We’ve updated our resource hub and have added a section on Palestine that contains podcasts, videos, and articles to aid existing knowledge and advocate for national liberation.

Read now

South Asian Healing Spaces 💜

The Rights Collective, together with Alternative Justice and Expert By Experience, are holding two drop-in support spaces for our communities this month.

Hi folks, we hope you’re all keeping well and feeling positive about the easing of lockdown rules if that is the case for where you are. We know its been a difficult month, and we’ve been consumed in collective grief with everything happening in the world to our communities. That is why we’re holding two healing and support spaces this month for our South Asian siblings - more below.

We’re also sharing a round-up of the workshops our collective members have hosted in the past couple of weeks centred around unpacking anti-blackness in South Asian communities, body liberation and more.

If you’d like to get in touch with us about collaborating, volunteering or wish to simply say hello, drop us a message here.

In solidarity,

The Rights Collective


💜 Drop-in Healing Spaces

Following #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek this month, we at The Rights Collective, together with Alternative Justice and Expert By Experience, are holding two drop-in support spaces for our communities. We know it's been a challenging time for many - from dealing with ease in the lockdown rules to seeing our comrades in India suffer through their second wave and an oppressive government enacting full-on genocide on our siblings in Palestine. We hope these spaces can provide community and a space to be heard and connect.

Both circles will be facilitated by experienced community members and will hold space based on mutual respect and trust. Our facilitators aim to cultivate and foster a safe and open space for our community to come together to listen, speak to one another, and be heard without judgment.

Sign up


📚 Anti-Caste Reading Circle: Caste and Race

Session 5 summary of our anti-caste reading circle is now up on our website! We had an insightful session looking at the intersections of caste and race with a number of interesting points being explored. We invite you to reflect using the summary in your own time if you weren’t able to join us.

Thanks, as always, to our facilitators Jyotsna Siddharth and Varun Khanna for putting together the session. We hope you find these summaries helpful and please let us know how you get on!


Brown Bodies Workshop

Sharing snippets of the first in a series of workshops with our brilliant facilitator Ameira Sikand of The UnMute Files. Participants explored concepts of body liberation, body privilege, and body positivity.


Recounts from our Anti-Blackness Workshop

Our collective members Inaya and Disha co-facilitated a workshop on Unpacking Anti-Blackness within South Asian Communities in the U.K. for our friends at WOC Azadi Collective last week. Participants were taken through:

  • the history of racism and systemic oppression

  • anti-Blackness before colonialism

  • exploring the intersections of class, caste, and ethnicity

  • and challenging narratives around model minorities.

We had a great response from attendees and we invite them to continue to deepen their journey into the understanding of how anti-blackness manifests itself in South Asian communities & why we must challenge it. We will be hosting a part 2 soon, so watch this space! If you want us to facilitate a workshop for your community, get in touch at therightscollective@gmail.com.


Mutual Aid for India

The Rights Collective team is pooling funds via our Solidarity Circle for mutual aid projects in India providing COVID relief during the unfolding crisis.

You can contribute too - the pool is open until May 31st, after which the funds will be distributed between several projects via Mutual Aid India. Contributors will be sent further details before distribution. Our rage and activism must extend beyond our immediate experiences. It must be global, intersectional, and guided by those doing the work on the ground. We invite you to contribute what you can 💛

Donate


Articles & Blogs

  • From Life To Death: تحریر // Tehreer participant Sivakami Prasanna writes about the tragic second wave engulfing India, and of helplessness and guilt that many in the diaspora feel.

  • Worldwide demonstrations are being held in support of Palestinian Liberation and against Israel’s 11-day onslaught of Gaza. Check out these images of global solidarity across London, Chicago, New York, Tripoli, and Tehran.

  • Hosnia had dreams: The minority Hazara community in Afghanistan already faces rampant discrimination in the country, last week’s targeted bombing of a girl’s school brings more devastation and heartache.

  • Support a free press: Investigative journalist Rozina Islam has been arrested in Bangladesh after uncovering government corruption in the COVID-19 crisis. Under a colonial-era law, she may face the death penalty.


Read 4 Palestine 🇵🇸

If you want to find out more information and expand on your existing knowledge of Palestine, you can check out Lets Talk Palestine, Adalah Justice Project, Decolonise Palestine, and this google folder for free resources and explainer posts.

📣 Exploring Brown Bodies Workshops

Issue 6 of our zine on 'Brown Bodies' is out now and to celebrate the launch, we're excited to host a mini-workshop! Read on for highlights from Dalit History Month, and new blog posts

Hi folks, we hope you are all keeping well and taking care as we continue to navigate the tricky terrain we have found ourselves in. We wanted to check in and say hi and share some updates on our work. April was Dalit History Month - the team is committed to unlearning the ways in which we uphold caste oppression and amplifying Dalit voices. Read on to find the summary of our ‘Caste & Food"‘ reading circle as well as a blog with activist, Jyotsna Siddharth.

We’re also excited to present our much awaited ‘Brown Bodies’ zine which is available to download on our website. We want to express our gratitude to all the people who submitted and have engaged with it since the launch - we received an amazing response. To celebrate our launch and delve deeper into exploring our relationships with our bodies, we’re excited to offer a mini course on Brown Bodies facilitated by Ameira Sikand. More information below.

As always, in solidarity.

The Rights Collective


Exploring Brown Bodies Workshops

We're very excited to be hosting a mini course on brown bodies in order to create space for deeper and nuanced conversations around this topic - to learn more about what our bodies mean to us, how they are politicised and oppressed for profit and the ways in which we might resist in our own lives.

Register here


Issue 6 Zine: BROWN BODIES

Issue 6 of our zine on Brown Bodies is now live on our website to download! We have an amazing selection of personal essays, poems, and beautiful art pieces capturing the varied experiences of our community.

We wanted our contributors to lean into the broadness of this topic and they most definitely delivered. Each of us knows the beautiful complexity of being a brown person in a world that doesn’t entirely understand us. Whether it’s how we are judged within spaces that should be safe or the unsolicited advice about how we should dress, sit, be. Sometimes this brings us to tears and sometimes it makes us laugh. The bountiful and visible hair on our heads, bodies and faces. How we manage our health or food. Our longing to connect. The joy we feel in our culture and clothing. The proud moments we share with our families. The frustration and disappointment when the way the world expects us to be doesn’t match our love for ourselves.

While reading this issue, we invite you to listen to this playlist curated by each of the featured writers in the Zine. If you want to learn more from the contributors and listen to some readings, you can catch up on the IG Live conversation here.


Anti-Caste Reading Circle: Caste and Food

Session 4 of our reading circle looking at Caste and Food is now available to view! We had a great session looking at the politics of food and discussing the associations of different food whether that be religious or caste based whilst growing up.

We've included reflection questions put together by our facilitators Jyotsna Siddharth and Varun Khanna, and a snippet of an ice-breaker exercise participants did during the session where we attempted to deconstruct daal.


TRC Podcast Season 1 - FINAL EPISODE

Our final episode of season 1 of our podcast is out now on Spotify and Apple! This week, Habiba spoke with Tasnima Uddin - writer, organiser and campaigner working across race, gender, abolition and citizenship. She is the co-founder of Nijjor Manush - an advocacy group for Bangladeshis in the UK - and project lead at Restless Beings.

Tasnima and Habiba discuss navigating faith & identity through Islamophobia and racism, the need for community-focused organising and the importance of recognising difference in order to strengthen solidarity between campaigning groups. Read the show notes here.

Watch this space for season 2 - coming soon!


EMERGENCY FUNDRAISER FOR INDIA

India’s devastating second COVID-19 wave undoubtedly took place within the context of a global healthcare inequality, where richer countries tend to get first dibs and hoard access to vaccine advancements.


Articles & Blogs

  • With the recent proposed hijab ban by the French government, team member Habiba traces the trajectory of colonial though that informed this to French Algeria. Read Gendered Islamophobia here.

  • How does one assert their identity and navigate being asexual in India? تحریر // Tehreer participant Sivakami Prasanna writes about her experiences in ‘Reframing Desires’.

  • Tamil’s Healing Journey is a short story taking us through an account of healing through yoga, meditation, and journaling. Written by Tehreer participant Sorubiha Kamalanathan.

  • This Dalit History Month, The Rights Collective interviewed Dalit activists working within Dalit liberation and rights movements. This conversation takes place between Inaya Hussain and Jyotsna Siddharth - actor, intersectional artist, activist and founder of online platform Project Anti-Caste, Love, who is currently based in India. Jyotsna shares her thoughts on Dalit History Month, her journey into activism and her hopes for the future of Dalit communities. Read here.

  • The Battle for Brick Lane - Dr. Fatima Rajina and Sotez Chowdhury from campaigning group Nijjor Manush spork to Taj Ali at Tribune Mag as to why proposals for a new shopping mall at the site of the Old Truman Brewery is disastrous for the local community.

  • The Asian Youth Movements were set up in the 70’s to organise against racism in the streets of Brittan- read about the trial of the Bradford 12 and the activist who demanded their acquittal.

#KillTheBill

The Police Will Not Save Us, تحریر // Tehreer 2021 cohort & recommendations from the team.

Hi folks, we hope you are all keeping well and taking care as we continue to navigate the onslaught of many systems of oppression. It’s been a while since we checked in so we wanted to say hi and share some of our work and resources you may find helpful.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks in the U.K. All of us here have been reeling from the sudden, and tragic loss of Sarah Everard, who was killed by a serving Metropolitan Police Officer. We know these state apparatuses will not protest us, particularly marginalised people who continue to be systematically discriminated against. We recently published an article written by one of our ‎تحریر // Tehreer participants; Hajera Begum who distills the main points about the expansion of police powers. Read on for the link to the full article.

Watch this space for our much awaited ‘Brown Bodies’ zine too - we can’t wait for you all to see it! We want to express our gratitude and extend a thank you to all the people who submitted, we loved reading all the beautiful essays, personal stories, and seeing your artwork.

As always, in solidarity.

The Rights Collective


We’re so honoured to introduce our wonderful Tehreer Cohort 2021! We are excited to launch this project and have the opportunity to work with individuals from a range of backgrounds and locations that span from North America to U.K. to the subcontinent! Meet the participants; Fabliha Anbar, Hajera Begum, Abarna Selvajara, Niharika Pore, Sivakami Prasanna, and Sorubiha Kamalanathan!


The Rights Collective Podcast 📣 NEW EPISODE ALERT!

This week, Inaya spoke with Pritt Music, a rising R&B star from South London, who uses her Tamil heritage to influence her art both lyrically and musically. Pritt and Inaya speak candidly about navigating identity within the diaspora, how this has manifested in Pritt’s experience in the music industry - including the limitations of representation politics - and the importance of intergenerational dialogue & understanding.

If you missed episode 6, you can listen here. We sat down with Meera Ghani, a community builder who works in the environmental justice space.


Checking Our Privilege

We noticed our posts on the Brown Women [Un]Learn Reading Circle always get more engagement than our other posts, and we wanted to take a moment to bring attention to our positionality as a diaspora collective working in the anti-caste movement and acknowledge the ways we exercise our privilege within this context.

We want to emphasise again is that this work is NOT new, we are not inventing or even leading it. We are simply trying to unlearn the ways in which we ourselves have benefited from, perpetuated and enacted casteism in our lives. In doing that work, we are being led by and learning from caste-oppressed individuals and communities who have done the difficult work of thinking through, analysing and sharing their lived experiences through books, articles, videos and more.

We have put together a short list of Dalit-led organisations / accounts doing important anti-caste work, from whom we are constantly learning. See image below to check these out. This is a non-exhaustive list and we know there are many more organisations doing important work. If you know of any other accounts doing work in this space then please let us know.

You can read our the summary of the second meet up of the reading circle here.


The Police Will Not Save Us

It is important to remember the police are often the direct perpetrators of harm and directly uphold systems that do the same, it is also important to remember that myth that the police keep us safe only harms us.

Hajera adeptly outlines the functions of the police, the dangers of the current legislation being passed, and encourages us to work for and imagine a better future without policing.

Read Now


The History of South Asian Women in the U.K.

Having entered Britain without prior experience in the workplace, dealing with institutionalised racism and unprepared for the hostile environment that awaited them, South Asian women faced many challenges.

Check our our article about the history of South Asian women in the U.K. for Women’s History Month.

Read now


Recommendations from the team

  • Syma Tariq in collaboration with Sri-Lankan based interdisciplinary platform Colomboscope 2021: Language is Migrant has launched an exciting series of radio episodes exploring language in the subcontinent. From the Urdu speaking communities in Bangladesh to U.K. Desi dancefoor DJ’s, she combines sonic sounds with poetic melodies to take listeners through a journey.

  • Abolitionist Futures are hosting a series of online events this week on #KillTheBill; Priti Patel’s policing bill with speakers including Dr. Sita Balani and Asad Rehman (War on Want).


We’ve added a number of new resources and articles on our Brown Women [Un]Learn Resource Hub to expand our collective knowledge. Check it out now!

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