Monday, December 14, 2020 (Seventeen days more in 2020)
Isabel Wilkerson is a very bright, educated, excellent writer. Her readable first book, The Warmth of Other Suns, won a Pulitzer Prize. It describes in the early twenties, a migration of Black Americans from the “Jim Crow South. I’d heard that label but little understood it. Maybe I preferred to avoid understanding more, but Wilkerson gave me an education. It was appalling to comprehend the inhumanity in a Jim Crow society. That perspective’s not a bygone, and many forms remains evident.
Wilkerson’s latest work, Caste, is a brilliant explanation of the origins and rationale behind common categorizations in populated areas of human worth, based on skin colors, religious beliefs, and monetary accumulations. She compares frequent rises and falls of contagions (AIDs, Covid-19); and political situations (ascensions of Nazism and Trump); and social categories (India’s stringent ranking of “untouchables” as lowliest); and early America’s Native People (stolen from and pushed-aside).
Caste is a compelling read, not based just on history, but also on Wilkerson’s personal experiences with undeserved confrontations. Like all women socially, she’s considered a “set aside”, but regardless of smartness, education, and social standing, she’s also a “Black Woman”.
This book has forced me to rethink my Oklahoma upbringing, the attitudes taught to me that for years hindered my ability to appreciate an individual’s worth. It’s making me now in maturity to rethink my current attitudes, and wonder how often, how much, and if somehow I still try to categorize others.
Recently, I spoke of wishing for all people to understand that among forest trees’ roots and fungi, a thriving relationship exists underground, with trees and fungi actively communicating and exchanging beneficial nutrients. Wilkerson’s readable and understandable Caste focuses our attention to “above ground”, to human social impulses, how they’ve been employed to accumulate, categorize, communicate, and manipulate.
Both her books are must reads.
Dear Friends: Underground is about health; above ground is about money and power. Diana