ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Talking Back at Brahminical Knowledge Systems

There is a systematic erasure of Dalit students’ negotiations with the erasure of anti-caste history and traditions in the school curriculum, stigmatising Dalit students at every stage.

Children are deliberately kept away from knowledge about societal agonies. However, does every student feel equal within this set-up? A Dalit childs primary experience of the erasure and subordination of her communitys historical legacy and contributions happens in school, a public place. Studying at a prominent international school in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, I witnessed this erasure first-hand. The school proclaimed to practise the message of Jesus, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, yet there was no conversation on caste sensitisation. Absolute silence and complicity regarding caste awareness within the school felt like an erasure. Even when caste was mentioned, it was done in haste, as a tokenistic gesture. The school supervisor once tried to engage the audience before a guest was meant to arrive by asking the question, Who is the father of the Constitution? The audience went silent as if there was no answer. I knew the answer, but I had no confidence to speak, making me realise how the Brahminical political system wins when Dalit students do not choose to talk back.

In Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (1989), bell hooks argues that talking back at something or some authority means asserting yourself and reclaiming your lost voice. hooks realised how the denial of talking back within her household meant that she was meant to behave as a girl child does, obsequiously. Maya Angelou, who lost her voice to guilt at age five since she blamed herself for the death of her rapist, regained her voice by talking back. Angelous talking back was most powerful through her poem, Still I Rise: You may write me down in history // With your bitter,  twisted lies, // You may trod me in the very dirt // But still, like dust, Ill rise. 

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Published On : 9th Mar, 2024

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