Wow. This book is just wow. Poignant but also provocative. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents describes racism in the United States. But Wilkerson takes it further…further than I have heard or read before.
I have never disputed the fact that the United States is a racist place, but Wilkerson guides us through her theory that racism in the USA is a product of a caste system, a society-wide hierarchy. A system of inclusion and exclusion. I found it gripping and truthful and honest.
This book will make many people uncomfortable. It will make racists balk and claim it’s a farce. It will make people of color shake their heads in agreement and disgust. It will make people like me, someone who does not consider herself racist, stop and take stock of my own life and caste.
Wilkerson guides the reader through eight pillars of a caste system, all clearly in use today in the USA. Many stem from the very founding of our country. Others are more recently developed and upheld. She guides the reader through the theory identifying the contagion of caste just like a virus and how the caste system self=perpetuates by rewarding those lower class people who abide by the unwritten rules.
The New York Times claimed this book “an instant American classic and almonst certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the century so far.” Very high praise indeed.
Timely, chilling, astonishing. The book likely won’t change the thinking of racists around us, but might give pause and hope and direction to those who flounder in the middle.
*****One of the best books I have read in years. Five big stars for Caste: The Origins of our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson.
Read last week’s review of Virgil Wander
My current read The Great Influenza by John M. Barry
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