2021 January

Book Review

Caste: The Origins of our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson

by Karen Lehman, MHS president/CEO

It is not often that I can read a nonfiction book in the same page-turning way that I read a good book of fiction.  Sharing stories and providing short provocative narratives makes this book easy to read and hard to put down.

Isabel Wilkerson makes a provocative case for an American caste system, demonstrating similarities to the caste systems in India and Nazi Germany, that places Black people at the lowest, rank in our society.  She provides extensive research and examples.

What we term racism is essentially a caste system that has been in place since the earliest history of this country, and which continues to be maintained today by our spoken and unspoken social order, laws, rules, marginalization and violence. 

This book is filled with American history; shocking and deeply upsetting to read at times, but absolutely critical to know and understand.  This book is required reading for anyone who truly wants to understand white privilege and power as it has played out through history, and how this has shaped the America that we live in today.


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