Dharma and Justice: Investigating Caste and Racial Oppression through a Buddhist Lens
Join us on Tuesday, March 21 at 7:00 PM for Dharma and Justice: Investigating Caste and Racial Oppression through a Buddhist Lens, featuring Thenmozhi Soundararajan and Rima Vesely-Flad.
Thenmozhi Soundararajan, author of The Trauma of Caste: A Dalit Feminist Meditation on Survivorship, Healing, and Abolition (North Atlantic Books, 2022) and co-founder of the grassroots organization Equality Labs, investigates how caste oppression functions in India and within the Indian diaspora residing in the United States. Rima Vesely-Flad, author of Black Buddhists and the Black Radical Tradition: The Practice of Stillness in the Movement for Liberation (New York University Press, 2022), explores distinctive interpretations and practices of Black Buddhist teachers. In this virtual conversation, they will discuss Buddhism, intergenerational trauma, how the experiences of caste and racial oppression mirror one another, and their indebtedness to the Black Feminist and abolitionist traditions.
ASL interpretation will be provided.
Thenmozhi Soundararajan is a Dalit American artist, community organizer, technologist, and theorist. Currently, Thenmozhi is the Executive Director of Equality Labs, which she co-founded. Equality Labs is the largest Dalit civil rights organization working to empower caste-oppressed people in the US and globally. Through her work at Equality Labs, Thenmozhi has mobilized South Asian Americans towards dismantling eons-long systems of oppression, with the goal of ending caste apartheid, gender-based violence, white supremacy, and religious intolerance. Thenmozhi previously co-founded Third World Majority, an international media training organization and collective that supported people from disenfranchised groups in telling their own stories, in their own way.
Her intersectional, cross-pollinating work—research, education, art, activism, and digital security—helps to create a more generous, global, expansive, and inclusive definition of South Asian identity, along with safe spaces from which to honor the stories of these communities. Thenmozhi’s work has been recognized by the U.S. Congress, The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, The Producers Guild of America Diversity Program, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Sorbonne, Source Magazine, Utne Reader, The National Center for the Humanities, The National Science Foundation, The Ford Foundation, and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. She is a frequent contributor on issues related to South Asia, caste, gender, and racial Equity, as well interfaith issues and peacebuilding, and has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, Guardian, ABC, and NBC news. She was also an inaugural fellow of the Robert Rauschenberg Artist as Activist, Atlantic Foundation for Racial Equity, and is a current fellow at Stanford Center for South Asian Studies. You can order her new book The Trauma of Caste from North Atlantic Books to learn more about her work around caste equity, abolition, and healing.
Dr. Rima Vesely-Flad
Dr. Rima Vesely-Flad is a Visiting Professor of Buddhism and Black Studies at Union Theological Seminary. She is the author of Black Buddhists and the Black Radical Tradition: The Practice of Stillness in the Movement for Liberation (NYU Press, 2022) and Racial Purity and Dangerous Bodies: Moral Pollution, Black Lives, and the Struggle for Justice (Fortress Press, 2017). She leads retreats and classes for dharma centers throughout the U.S. Learn more about Dr. Rima Vesely-Flad here.