The Nazis taught that Jews were untermenschen, the Indians taught that the Dalit were “untouchable” and Americans taught that Blacks were congenitally inferior. Such assumptions have defined human history for millennia.
In her latest book, Caste, Pulitzer Prize-winner Isabel Wilkerson dives deep into the pillars that underlie such systems, from divine will to heredity, putting human faces on the power of human rankings. In selecting Caste for her book club, Oprah Winfrey proclaimed it be the most essential volume she’d ever chosen. The New York Times called it an “instant classic.” And it jumped to the top of bestseller lists for months.
Upon the release of the paperback edition, Wilkerson joins us to discuss the enduring potency of such hierarchies of human value; America’s unacknowledged system of rigid, inherited social stratification and its parallels in India and Nazi Germany, which mimicked America’s race laws in its early approaches to the “Jewish Problem.”
The first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Price in journalism, Wilkerson is the author The Warmth of Other Suns, named to Time’s 10 Best Nonfiction Books of the Decade and to The New York Times Magazine’s Best Nonfiction of All Time.
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