Essay & Art contest for South Asian students on intersections between casteism and racism

Essay & Art contest for South Asian students on intersections between casteism and racism

5,185 have signed. Let’s get to 7,500!
Petition to
Students of South Asian origin (India and the diaspora)

Why this petition matters

Started by Raju Rajagopal

Please note: This is an update to the original petition focussing on the issue of Manu statue on the premises of the Rajasthan High Court. We are continuing to reach out the signers (old and new) on other issues directly pertinent to caste and racism.

Essay for South Asian students on intersections between Casteism and Racism:

Dalit Solidarity Forum in the USA, Hindus for Human Rights, and Indian American Muslim Council are pleased to present the second annual Essay and Art Contest on Civil and Human Rights

The theme for this year’s contest is: Intersections Between Caste Discrimination and Anti-Black Racism.

Deadline: 12 pm EST on Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

Prize: $1,000 for winners, $500 and $250 for runner-ups

Pre-Register to indicate your interest in participating in the contest so we can hold a place for you.

Submit your final essay or work of art here.

We invite South Asian American students* in grades 6-12 to reflect on the intersections between caste discrimination and anti-Black racism.

Across South Asia and the diaspora, persons from oppressed-caste communities such as Dalits continue to face various forms of discrimination, oppression, and societal segregation. In India, caste discrimination is illegal, and affirmative action policies have enabled social, political and economic mobility for some who come from Dalit families. Yet, caste oppression persists and persons belonging to Dalit communities remain socially, economically, and politically marginalized.

Similarly, in the United States, despite the legal successes of the Civil Rights movement and the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, race-based inequities continue to impact Black communities and other people of color in myriad ways.

From Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., activists fighting identity-based marginalization, exclusion, and oppression have long seen parallels between the struggles against caste discrimination and anti-Black racism. 

Through either an essay or a work of art, we invite students to engage with these intersecting struggles. 

Questions that participants can consider include (but are not limited to):

What are some similarities between caste stratification in South Asia and the diaspora and racial segregation in the US? 
When and how have campaigns to combat these injustices intersected? 
Does your own identity and experiences with caste shape how you think about social justice issues in the US?
How can social justice movements combat caste and race-based discrimination? 

We welcome submissions from students in grades 6-12 who identify as belonging to the South Asian diaspora, defined broadly. Students from all religious backgrounds are welcome. We invite students whose identities intersect in meaningful ways with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka, and the United States. This includes members of the diaspora whose families hail from the Caribbean, Fiji, Singapore or Malaysia, or countries in Africa, for example, as well as students who identify as multi-racial.

South Asian students in grades 6-12 living outside the United States are welcome if they feel connected to or inspired by the U.S. civil rights struggle and contemporary movements against racism and caste oppression.


March 15: Deadline for submissions
April 16: Virtual award ceremony

700 words minimum; 1,000 words maximum
Microsoft Word (.docx) document; double-spaced, 12 pt. Times New Roman font
No personal identification information may be in the body of the essay
Citations, if any, must be placed in the end, and will not be part of the word count

A high-resolution photograph of your artwork.
8 1⁄2 x 11 inch or 11 x 17 inch format

Pre-Register to indicate your interest in participating in the contest so we can hold a place for you.
Submit your final essay or work of art here.
JUDGING PROCESS: Essay and art submissions will be grouped and judged based on grade level (middle school and high school). Jurors will not be able to see the names of contestants.


Your understanding of the history of struggles against racism and caste oppression
Your case for connecting social justice movements in South Asia and the United States
Factual accuracy and critical analysis
Originality, clarity, and effectiveness of your message.
Language (grammar, spelling, and composition)
Any other criteria that the juror groups may agree upon
GROUNDS FOR DISQUALIFICATION: All submissions must be original and unique to this competition.  Please do not submit work that you have submitted elsewhere. Additionally, providing false information, missing the submission deadline, not complying with the submittal format and word count will disqualify your entry.

PERMISSION TO USE YOUR ESSAYS, ARTWORK, NAMES, AND PHOTOGRAPHS: Contestants may be asked to submit a release allowing the sponsors to publish your essay and/or artwork in print publications and on public websites. In addition, you may be asked to authorize use of your photograph in contest-related promotional materials.


5,185 have signed. Let’s get to 7,500!