Friday, October 2, 2020

Book discussion - Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

During the month of October, 2020, we will be discussing Isabel Wilkerson's book, Caste. You are invited to read a long and add your comments.

Because even if I should speak
no one would believe me.
And they would not believe me precisely because
they would know that what I said was true.
James Baldwin

As I read the first chapters of the book, Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson I keep thinking about this short poem by James Baldwin. “Caste” as Ms. Wilkerson defines the world is invisible to most people. They don’t see it. When characteristics of the caste system are pointed out they deny it or minimize and say “I don’t know what you’re talking about - that’s just how things are,” as if God ordained it and it were not a social construction created by human beings.

I learned about many of these characteristics of a caste system as “systemic racism” or simply “the system.” The concept of “caste” crystallizes this other concept of systemic racism in a much clearer, succinct, and focused way. Caste systems by their nature are invisible to most of the participants. It is the structure of societal power relations which has been justified as natural and/or God created.

The concept of a caste system, once you see it, will change your experience of your life. Nothing will be the same again. How has becoming aware of our caste system in America changed your consciousness? My reaction has been deep shame.

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