Caste by Isabel Wilkerson


“They were punished for being in the condition that they were forced to endure”(135).

This well-researched examination and comparison of the caste systems in the United States, India, and Nazi Germany shows how and why the very structure of America society has been constructed to keep the status quo. Caste, race, racism are all the constructs of humans. Humans have created multitudes of ways to keep others down through fear.

Since the 2016 election, I’ve done my own soul searching into why the United States was backpedaling into an era of increased hatred and racism. The anger of the uneducated white, the anger of white men, the anger of white suburbans has been profound and shocking yet on closer examination completely predictable. Wilkerson’s book puts all of the current tension in the US into focus. Wilkerson is a fantastic storyteller whose detailed descriptions and accounts give the reader a realistic understanding of her thesis.

Caste weaves together history, laws, and personal narratives that highlight how a powerful caste system has been installed and supported throughout the history of the United States. Wilkerson highlights the use of redlining and Jim Crow laws to keep Black Americans from escaping the poverty that the caste system has delegated them to.

This book helped me to question some of the bigger assumptions about my life. Why did I choose teaching? Was it easier for me to get my degree, job, house than it would be for a PoC? How can I bring these questions and concerns into my classroom?

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