calendar March 31, 2021 in anti-racism

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

I just finished reading Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson.  I would recommend this book as a must-read for those who want to expand their understanding about the pervasive sin of racism in America. She is brilliant and has opened up yet another reality for me.  From the book jacket:

“Beautifully written, original, and revealing. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of American life today.”

 I share just two of the many, many statements from her book that stunned me:

“By the time that Hitler rose to power, the United States, ‘was not just a country with racism,’ Whitman the Yale legal scholar, wrote. ‘It was the leading racist jurisdiction – so much so that even Nazi Germany looked to America for inspiration.’ The Nazis recognized the parallels even if many Americans did not.” (pg. 81)

“Americans hold unconscious bias against black Americans, bias so automatic that it kicks in before a person can process it, according to the Harvard sociologist David R. Williams. The messaging is so pervasive in American society that a third of black Americans hold anti-black bias against themselves.” (pg. 186)

Pastor John Saraka* gave me permission to share with you his review of Caste :

“This morning I finished the book Caste by Isabel Wilkerson and when I closed the cover I let out a sigh too deep for words. Rarely has a book affected me so deeply. Taking me through a journey of insight and discovery that uncovered a place of deep disappointment:  angst as she sheds light on the disparity and dangers the system of caste has on our souls. In this case, the caste of race in America as it parallels to the untouchables in India or the Jews in Nazi Germany.  As you walk through the deep sadness of this history and how it’s present realities still are manifested, she does something quite extraordinary. She leaves you with the potential possibility for redemption and dare I say it; hope. For my family and friends who are white, I hope you will read this book. In a remarkable way, it has led to a space within my heart of radical empathy that I pray will foster action in my everyday decisions.”

*retired ELCA pastor (SEPA and UNY Synods)

– submitted by Deacon Kathleen Afflerbach, a member of the Anti-racism team; she is a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Spinnerstown

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