Book Review: Caste

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is a keeper. So often I will read a book and then pass it along to a friend or drop it in a local Little Free Library. Not Caste. This book is one that I will go back to and read sections and think about again. Without offering solutions, Caste gave a well researched and thoughtful account of how we got to where we are in regards to racism in America.

Isabel Wilkerson compares the caste system of India, the rise of the Third Reich and Nazi Germany, and American slavery and racism. She weaves personal narrative throughout the book, giving real life experiences to illustrate her observations and claims (with 79 pages of notes, bibliography, and index to support her work). I saw pieces of myself and my life journey in the pages in ways that, honestly, felt uncomfortable. I need to feel uncomfortable as I continue on my personal antiracism journey.

One small story that really impacted me was when Ms. Wilkerson shared about the obstetric and gynecological experimentation done on slave women. I’ve experienced 4 c-sections, a uterine ablation, and an abdominal hysterectomy. As a white woman, being confronted with the racist history of the development of these procedures just hit me hard; I found myself emotional and sorrowful. Because of the wide range of stories, I believe that each reader will have their own moment of being confronted with history.

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

Evil asks little of the dominant caste other than to sit back and do nothing. All that it needs from bystanders is their silent complicity in the evil committed on their behalf, though a caste system will protect, and perhaps even reward, those who deign to join in the terror.

Caste, pg. 151

For me, this book is a must-read for all people on an antiracism journey. For those just beginning their journey, Caste would be best read after a few other books. I don’t want to be a person who sits back and does nothing. I will continue to learn and address my own bias, sharing my struggles and convictions in conversation with close, trusted friends. When you read Caste, I want to know what you think, and what the something is that you will do to take another step on your journey.

Published by Kris

Jesus follower, racing wife, mom of seven, United Methodist pastor... Trying to live a life worthy of my callings.

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