Fresno bans discrimination over caste, indigenous status

Fresno is now the first city in California to protect against any caste discrimination, and the first city in the nation to protect against any discrimination against Indigenous communities.

Bhavana P

Jakara Movement, executive director, Naindeep Singh addressing the press gathering / (Image - Instagram/Jakara Movement)

Caste has officially been made a protected category in Fresno, a first for Californian cities. The city council expanded the list of groups protected from discrimination in recruiting and employment law with a 7-0 majority, including caste and indigenous populations.

Council members Miguel Arias, Mike Karbassi, and Annalisa Perea sponsored the legislation. Without debate, the issue was approved on the consent calendar. According to Karbassi, there haven't been any problems with the South Asian and indigenous groups' hiring procedures.

South Asian nations still use the caste system, which has been in place for millennia. Native American tribes from California as well as those from Mexico, Central America, and South America are considered to be indigenous communities for the city.

“It is a historic opportunity for the city of Fresno to have an in-depth understanding of its diverse communities and understand some of the nuances in between them. It is, to my knowledge, the first opportunity for a city in California to have an ordinance ending caste discrimination,” said Jakara Movement, executive director, Naindeep Singh during public comment.

The Jakara Movement, a non-profit Sikh organization has constantly supported and pushed for this to be a reality. Fresno is the second city in the United States to make caste a protected class, following Seattle's decision earlier this year.

The new law comes as Governor Gavin Newsom prepares to sign California's historic anti-caste discrimination measure SB403, which would make California the first state in the US to forbid caste-based discrimination.