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From A Dalit Citizen: We Don’t Need Apology In Words, But In Action

This letter is addressed to all the actors, comics, public figures who have recently apologized for their casteist/sexist slurs, comments, tweets, and statements on any platform in the past.

Comedians like Abish Mathew have used casteist humour to punch down on marginalized communities.

To all of those celebrities and influential people. We do not need or want your apologies, your apologies are useless for us. Your apologies are mere words that can never undo the harm you did to our minds in the past. You fail to understand the impact your tweets had on people 10 years back, your jokes reaffirmed and conditioned misogyny on young minds who now are grown men/women today, you filled their heads with your problematic opinions.

You had the mic, and you chose your words, which were just ‘jokes’ to you but it was never just ‘jokes’ for us, it was the reason for serious mental health issues. We are made to feel guilty for using reservation which is our basic constitutional right in our everyday life, we are made to feel inferior, which leads to a lack of self-confidence, trauma, inferiority complex, and much more.

Do you even know that mental health therapy is just out of reach for most of us? 1500/- to 3000/- bucks an hour is the minimum cost of a therapist which most of us can’t even afford. You guys keep harping about mental health but what about the trauma you cause? You come from a privileged background, your forefathers were educated, your parents are English speaking, you have land money, heritage, and contacts.

Dalits don’t have land and we don’t have resources, I am the 2nd generation in my family to get access to education, I know many who are the first generation in their family to get an education. Do you know how I can write a letter to you in English? Because my father got reservation, otherwise I would have been just daily wage labour like my grandfather.

Do you think it’s okay to crack such jokes and alienate people furthering their mental health issues?

Do you know how many students have died by suicides and continue to do so because of the casteism they face in colleges because they are teased and discriminated against for using their constitutional right of ‘Reservation”? We are not joking. You don’t really care about it because it will never affect you, neither you nor your children will ever face these things because you are an upper caste individual.

Firstly, you have no right to make jokes about SC/ST/OBC communities or reservations because you are not one of them. You certainly cannot speak for us just like a white person can never make a joke on the black community, or use the ’N’ word. Casteism in college based on reservation and the Savarna idea of “merit” deeply affects the mental health of Dalit students.

Representational Image

Secondly, you apologized? Okay. Does that mean you’re okay now? No. We did not ask for an apology, you gave one, you thought you will get away with an apology, most probably your PR team asked you to, maybe you feel your much-earned status is under threat now, so you did apologize. But we never asked for one, your words mean nothing to us, we need an apology in action.

You have benefitted from all the jokes you made punching down on us, by few laughs from the ignorant audience like you, you have flourished, earned money, fame, everything. Some of you say that we are getting offended because we can’t take a joke or roast. Well, you’re a comedian, you know that in a roast you pass on the mic to the person you have been roasting. It is time to pass on the Mic.

Dr Munjaal Kapadia posted a long-ass apology on his Instagram, and to be honest, that sounded like a genuine apology, but how many Dalit/Bahujan women has he called to his podcast yet? I don’t know of any. Dr Munjaal, let this be a lesson on how you can apologize- by calling women from DBA communities to your Podcast.

The same goes for Abish Matthews, you have a chat show, invite people from DBA communities as a guest on our show, Pass on the mic to them. People like Neville Shah or Kanan Gill or many more, have cracked jokes about reservation and about quota, call people from the community on your Instagram/Facebook live, they will educate you and your audience as well, there are so many of them, give them space. If you can’t do that, don’t apologize, it is useless, it is a waste for us, we don’t care about your apology.

Thank you

Rishab D.
A Dalit Citizen of this country.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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