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An effort to ban caste discrimination in California has touched a nerve

California would be the first state to explicitly ban the practice, but the process has been divisive.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Caste discrimination wasn’t on the radar of many lawmakers in California. Then it showed up on their doorstep.

Hundreds of people mobilized outside the state Capitol in recent months, protesting a bill from first-term state Sen. Aisha Wahab to add caste to the list of protected groups in California — a proposal that many felt was unnecessary and unfairly tarnished the image of the South Asian community. Hearings on the bill got heated.

“Clearly we hit a nerve,” Wahab, who got death threats and is being targeted with a recall for her efforts, said at one hearing.


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