CHAYA BABU is a writer, journalist, organizer, arts educator, and healer. Her written work centers largely on the themes of race, gender and sexuality, cities, migration, and systemic and intergenerational trauma. Her journalistic work has appeared in Open City, VICE, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Feminist Wire, Racialicious and more. At India Abroad, the oldest and largest newspaper covering and serving the South Asian American diaspora, where she was a staff reporter for three years, Chaya transformed the nature of news and commentary about the community, pushing for a more critical lens on issues pertaining to South Asians in the US. Her stories there spanned a wide range of coverage, from anti-blackness in brown communities, caste patriarchy, and Hindu fundamentalism, to reproductive justice, domestic violence, hate crimes and more. Chaya's literary writing, on which she is currently focusing her attention as she pursues her MFA in Writing at Pratt Institute, aims to approach similar topics from a different angle. Her essays and creative nonfiction have been featured in BuzzFeed, The Margins, Du-Kool Magazine, and others, with a forthcoming piece in a book titled Go Home!—an Asian & Asian-American Anthology of Prose and Poetry, to be published by the Feminist Press and the Asian American Writers' Workshop in 2018. For her culture writing, Chaya was selected as a 2016 BuzzFeed Emerging Writers Fellow and a 2015 AAWW Open City Fellow, and she is currently Editor at Large at The Brooklyn Quarterly, a digital magazine of literature and public ideas. She holds an MS in Journalism from Medill and a BA in English from Duke.
Chaya's commitment to dismantling systems of oppression is evident outside of her writing. As an organizer, she has helped plan and participated in actions to fight caste-based sexual violence, police brutality, gentrification, Islamophobia, and more, and as a former member of the grassroots collective East Coast Solidarity Summer, she has co-facilitated community-building and political education initiatives for desi youth. In her teaching artist work with Community Word Project, Chaya brings social justice informed art practices into New York City public school classrooms. She has also led lectures and writing workshops at City College, Barnard, The New School, and Arts & Democracy. And with the South Asian Women's Creative Collective, where she served on the Board of Directors, Chaya helped foster the visibility of and support for South Asian women, femme, and gender nonconforming artists across disciplines.
Chaya lives in Brooklyn, NY, in Kensington—where the chai is sweet and steaming and you can actually see the stars in the night sky.