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Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

av Isabel Wilkerson

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
4,0211582,954 (4.43)232
""As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power--which groups have it and which do not." In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings. Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people's lives and behavior and the nation's fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people--including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball's Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others--she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity. Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of America life today"--… (mer)
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» Se även 232 omnämnanden

Visa 1-5 av 157 (nästa | visa alla)
I did not enjoy the writing in this as much as I did Ms. Wilkerson’s earlier book, The Warmth of Other Suns, but her hypothesis about viewing racial tensions through the lens of caste rather than race is compelling. ( )
  bschweiger | Feb 4, 2024 |
Good book about Caste system based on race in the U.S. ( )
  kslade | Feb 2, 2024 |
In this book Wilkerson shuttles between comparative history and memoir. Either one would have been preferable and it could be the reason Wilkerson has explained in interviews that this wasn’t the book she wanted to write but felt compelled to.

Parts of it reminded me of Ta Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. In this book we have a black woman’s engagement with a white male dominated world, and those parts of the book for me were the most effective and moving.

Wilkerson suggests that American society is based on caste, much like India, and that she navigates American society was one from a lower caste. She implies that blacks in America today are treated much like Jews were treated by Nazis in the Germany of the 1930’s.

She goes further to show how Nazis educated themselves in handling the races by studying the American racial laws, and the Jim Crow South.

For Wilkerson contemporary America is an extension of the Jim Crow South, and an immovable barrier to progress.

Race is biologically apparent, but not biologically significant any more than the length of your toes. Societally, however, racism is devastating and it is as global as a pandemic.

In this respect, America is not exceptional. Unfortunately. Some part of me wishes this was only an American problem. ( )
  MylesKesten | Jan 23, 2024 |
Since 2008 our generations have had to come to grips with the fact that, faced with a choice between loyalty to one's friends and family and loyalty to white supremacy - an alarming number would choose the second.

The cruelty from chattel slavery, the terrorism under Jim Crow, to the policies written in code since the Voting Rights Act – is there for anyone who cares to see it. The effort so many put into minimizing the damage done to perpetuate the myth of innocence and to enable the system to stay in place, the rage felt when someone’s ideas transgress the boundaries set by a caste system, the fact that given a choice between white supremacy and relationships, even blood, many will choose white supremacy, and the fact so many will choose to eliminate programs that will make their lives better (schools, health, employment opportunity) to prevent another group from benefitting – shows the deep roots beneath the surface.

It offers insight into why the organizations that enforce caste - why a law and order person will accept some violations but not violations of the caste system, why churches will be resigned to presence of some sin but not to transgressions of caste, why some school critics will accept some difference of opinion but not questioning of caste, why some acquaintances (social media and face to face) will be triggered by some ideas that bring up caste. Wilkerson is mining territory that's psychologically deeper than laws and religious texts.

Wilkerson addresses this as a teacher does, employing every analogy at her disposal, to show how pervasive our national problem is. Where her work succeeds most, perhaps, is in its encyclopedic organization. The long list of receipts and the short chapters dealing with each way caste penetrates our surroundings, is made to be re-read. I don’t think any one event in history is surprising but one of the dangerous myths is that every atrocity is an isolated incident – a myth that is easier to dispel when so many events are stacked so well, and their connections laid out with research.

And the book that needs to stay on the desk, accessible, since the problems addressed are going nowhere. As we see the move toward new channels where people can harbor their destructive beliefs – an attempt to create separate but equal news sources, social networks and truths – an accurate history and an accurate cultural memory are much needed weapons.
( )
  DAGray08 | Jan 1, 2024 |
This should be required reading in every high school social studies class ( )
  HauntedTaco13 | Dec 29, 2023 |
Visa 1-5 av 157 (nästa | visa alla)
A memorable, provocative book that exposes an American history in which few can take pride.
tillagd av Lemeritus | ändraKirkus Reviews (May 30, 2020)
 

» Lägg till fler författare (3 möjliga)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Wilkerson, Isabelprimär författarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Miles, RobinBerättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat

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Because even if I should speak,
no one would believe me,
And they would not believe me precisely because
they wuld know that that I said was ture.
--------James Baldwin
If the majority knew of the root of this evil,

then the road to its cure would not be long.

-------------------Albert Einstein
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To the memory of my parents

who survived the caste system

and to the memory of Brett

who defied it
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In the haunted summer of 2016, an unaccustomed heat wave struck the Siberian tundra on the edge of what the ancients once called the End of the Land.
There is a famous black-and-white photograph from the era of the Third Reich.
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Hitler had made it to the chancellery in a brokered deal that conservative elites agreed to only because they were convinced they could hold him in check and make use of him for their own political aims. They underestimated his cunning and overestimated his base of support, which had been the very reasson the had felt they needed him in the first place. At the height of their power at the polls, the Nazis never pulled the majority they coveted and drew only 38 percent of the vote in the country's last free and fair elections at the onset of their twelve-year reign. The old guard did not foresee, or chose not to see, that his actual mission was "to exploit the methods of democracy to destroy democracy." (p 82)
Caste is insidious and therefore powerful because it is not hatred, it is not necessarily personal. It is the worn grooves of comforting routines and unthinking expectations, patterns of a social order that have been in place for so long that it looks like the natural order of things.
The human impulse to create hierarchies runs across societies and cultures, predates the idea of race, and thus is farther reaching, deeper, and older than raw racism and the comparatively new division of humans by skin color.
Except that this was and is our country and this was and is who we are, whether we have known or recognized it or not.
The most respected and beneficent of society people oversaw forced labor camps that were politely called plantations, concentrated with hundreds of unprotected prisoners, whose crime was that they were born with dark skin. Good and loving mothers and fathers, pillars of their communities, personally, inflicted, gruesome tortures upon their fellow human beings.
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""As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power--which groups have it and which do not." In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings. Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people's lives and behavior and the nation's fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people--including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball's Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others--she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity. Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of America life today"--

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