Thenmozhi Soundararajan (stage name: Dalit Diva) is an Indo-American activist artist and transmedia artist, as well as co-founder of the international women’s media tech collective Third World Majority.
Her work mainly involves using her artistic skills (photography, song, storytelling & filmmaking) to uplift the status of Dalits, especially the women, across India. And presumably the diaspora too, given that she’s an American national & her work is global-focused.
In case I’ve somehow not made it clear in other posts, Dalits are the “untouchable” (a now-outlawed term in India since 1949) descendants of the original ‘black’ natives of India. They’re untouchable because of Hinduism, a 3,000yo spiritual tradition designed to keep them (as well as all women & girls) subservient and powerless. The ‘white’ & ‘grey’ higher-caste Indians (descendants of the Iranian creators of Hinduism commonly known as Aryans) burn their villages, rape them, strip & burn them in public, chuck them off ther lands, and refuse them the right to do any work except cleaning toilets & clearing dead bodies from train tracks.
To Thenmozhi everything is an art; posting on social media, security training, etc. In early March 2015 she was made part of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation’s inaugural class of Artist as Activist Fellows. According to one source her age is unknown because she refuses to disclose it publicly. It took a while to even let her face be seen on social media, until she realised it made her audiences engage with her better.
(I still have yet to do this! :$ But I will get there! :))
Personally I greatly respect and admire the work she does. And to do it through her creativity makes her an inspiration to me. That’s the next step for my projects.
See her lecture & perform here:
(Personal end note: she’s seriously beautiful, body, mind & soul. If I were with my Indian ex-colleagues I’d say she’s maalo-set. Forget Bipasha Basu, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Shilpa Shetty, and them other Bollywood ‘babes’.
Also, I’d like some help with pronouncing her name. To my ears it sounds like Ten-mori. Is that right?!?)