Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson's second book (her first is the acclaimed The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration) examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.
What is caste? According to Wilkerson, "caste is the granting or withholding of respect, status, honor, attention, privileges, resources, benefit of the doubt, and human kindness to someone on the basis of their perceived rank or standi
ng in the hierarchy." Racism and casteism do overlap, she writes, noting that "what some people call racism could be seen as merely one manifestation of the degree to which we have internalized the larger American caste system."
In The Guardian, novelist Fatima Bhutto calls "Caste" "a dark study of violence and power."
Dwight Garner in The New York Times writes, "Wilkerson’s book is about how brutal misperceptions about race have disfigured the American experiment ... I told more than one person, as I moved through my days this past week, that I was reading one of the most powerful nonfiction books I’d ever encountered."
In a more critical review, Vulture's Lauren Michele Jackson says Caste "offers a new word for injustice in America, not a new way of thinking."
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