The next Spirit Garage book discussion is on Caste: The Origins of our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson. In this book, Wilkerson explores the idea of caste in America, laying it alongside the caste system in India and Nazi Germany. Published in 2020, this book appeared on many lists of the best books of the year.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson says racism is an insufficient term for the systemic oppression of Black people in America. Instead, she prefers to refer to America as having a “caste” system.
Wilkerson describes caste an artificial hierarchy that helps determine standing and respect, assumptions of beauty and competence, and even who gets benefit of the doubt and access to resources.
“Caste focuses in on the infrastructure of our divisions and the rankings, whereas race is the metric that’s used to determine one’s place in that,” she says.
We’ll split the book in three parts over three months, since there is plenty to talk about. Whether this group will meet on zoom or in person, distanced remains to be seen, depending on weather.
April 27th: Parts 1, 2 and 3 (through page 166)
May 25th: Parts 4-5 (Through page 360)
June 22nd: Parts 6-7 and Epilogue (Through page 496)
Oprah has a podcast about the book if you want even more.
And here’s an interview Terry Gross did with the Wilkerson.
Book discussion on Caste. I’m writing this here just because you’re supposed to write that phrase again for searches.