Caste Book Circle

(Source: Penguin Random House)

The Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson, examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

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.

Join facilitator, Pam Clayborne, and fellow readers for six Thursday night Zoom gatherings, every other week, from 6:30-8:00 PM. All materials are included in the cost of this group and will be mailed to you by August 20, 2021. Registration is now open.


Dates: September 9    Part One: Toxins in the Permafrost and Heat Rising All Around

            September 23  Part Two: The Arbitrary Construction of Human Divisions

            October 7         Part Three: The Eight Pillars of Caste

            October 21       Part Four: The Tentacles of Caste

            November 4     Part Five: The Consequences of Caste

            November 18   Parts Six and Seven: Backlash and Awakening