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Caste and Race in America

Isabel Wilkerson already has a Pulitzer under her belt for The Warmth of Other Suns. However, in Caste she casts a broader net, exploring the underpinnings of three societies that share caste structure: Nazi Germany, India, and the United States.

Yes, I said that correctly. She compares American stratification of opportunities with those in Nazi Germany and points out that the Nazis studied and copied American laws when they were designing their own laws, laws which assigned people their roles in life, often dehumanizing them and establishing a society of hopelessness for those consigned to the lowest depths of existence.

Don't say "It can't happen here." It already has.

In one section of the book, she lists what she refers to as the "Pillars of Caste." These are the constituent parts common to all three caste systems in her study. These pillars are:

1. Divine Will and the Laws of Nature

2. Heritability

3. Endogamy and the Control of Marriage and Mating

4. Purity vs. Pollution

5. Occupational Hierarchy: The Jatis and the Mudsill

6. Dehumanization and Stigma

7. Terror as Enforcement, Cruelty as a Means of Control

8. Inherent Superiority versus Inherent Inferiority

Caste is an eye-opening book, one that pulls no punches and goes straight at the intransigent rules that so often define people in the United States based on nothing other than the color of their skin.

Please read this book.

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