Don’t think for a moment there’s only white privilege.

According to certain radical trustees on the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) there is also caste privilege.

In excess of 30 minutes — with more wasted time to come — a ridiculous motion to the board’s Governance and Policy committee was not only given credence this week but passed 6-1.

That motion, put forward by trustees Yalini Rajakulasingam and Anu Sriskandarajah, asked the board’s director Colleen Russell Rawlins to create a two-phased plan to—get this — address caste oppression at the TDSB.

That plan is intended to define caste-based discrimination and put together curriculum and professional training for staff on caste oppression by June of this year.

Only trustee Weidong Pei voted against this nonsense, after getting no concise response to whether specific complaints related to caste hate had been made to the board. 

The rest — including chairman Rachel Chernos-Lin, trustee Alexis Dawson and long-time trustee Shelley Larkin — followed like a bunch of sheep.

In a lengthy speech to the committee members Rajakulasingam, a Toronto-based classical dancer trained in Bharatanatyam (traditional Indian dance) defined caste oppression as a form of oppression perpetuated on south Asians by other south Asians.

Caste, she said, is based on a hierarchy of purity and privilege. The higher up the caste, the purer you are, she said. 

“The real horrifying and traumatic thing about this system… there are people perceived to be so impure they are not part of the hierarchy,” she said.

She claimed one’s caste determines what jobs you can access and where you live.

Those with more caste privilege, may be perceived as having lighter skin tone, she said.

“Caste is another system that perpetuates anti-blackness,” she said.

She added that there is evidence of gender-based and sex-based incidences of violence due to caste-based oppression and hate.

When they speak of caste oppression, they talk about disrupting “shadism”, suggested Rajakulasingam.

She said there is a large group of south Asians in the TDSB but it’s “not an equal playing field” due to the caste system

Identifying caste-based oppression will help the board dismantle power structures and systems of oppression, she added.

When two trustees asked about actual instances of caste-based oppression and the percentage of complaints to TDSB officials, Rajakulasingam danced around the question claiming students don’t know how to report caste-based oppression.

“If students have an intersectional identity, when they come forward (with issues) it’s identified as race-based rather than caste-based,” she said, noting this motion will bring forward a “safer process” to talk about caste-based oppression.

For heaven’s sake.

It was clear to me that trustees like the ones who moved this motion are looking to have a piece of  what has become the Oppression Olympics at this board. There is so much wrong with this I’m not sure where to start.

For one thing, I’m willing to bet most TDSB students don’t even understand the concept of caste.

South Asians came to Canada and to the GTA presumably for a better life and to escape the caste system.

Why are we even talking about antiquated ideologies when the system is declining in the countries where it was prominent? Unless, of course, the trustees who moved and voted for the motion enjoy the idea of victimhood.

TDSB officials have far better ways to spend their time.

It’s not as if the violence and drug dealing issues have been solved in TDSB schools.

It’s not as if students aren’t leaving the board because of its obsessive focus on anti-Black racism, hurt feelings and gender ideology. 

But as usual trustees are so mired in their radical ideologies, they can’t see the forest for the trees.


  • Sue-Ann Levy

    A two-time investigative reporting award winner and nine-time winner of the Toronto Sun’s Readers Choice award for news writer, Sue-Ann Levy made her name for advocating the poor, the homeless, the elderly in long-term care and others without a voice and for fighting against the striking rise in anti-Semitism and the BDS movement across Canada.