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See the movie, read the book!


Staff member
Feb 16, 2024
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I read Pulitzer Prize-winning Isabel Wilkerson’s amazing book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, when it first came out in 2020. I was so blown away by it that I urged you to read it, and even had a discussion group on it, recognizing I was reading an instant American classic.


You may recall it dissects all of our misperceptions about race (and we have quite a few), and argues that it’s really “caste,” not race, that is the underlying structure. Whether or not you agree with the author, you will find her argument fascinating and compelling.

Isabel described a caste system as a constructed hierarchy based on ancestry (not race) that pits presumed superiority (like German gentiles) against presumed inferiority (think German Jews). According to Wilkerson, caste is the silent usher, guiding us to our proper seat in the culture. She compares India’s treatment of the Dalits, the “untouchables,” to Nazi Germany’s stigma attached to the Jews, to American oppression of African-Americans. Each country uses dehumanization to justify keeping certain groups of people at the bottom. The author explores why, even today, white working-class Americans vote against their economic interests: they are voting to preserve the caste system, implicitly needing a group of people they themselves can still “look down on.”



Now Ava DuVernay’s film, “Origin” is a powerful and fascinating interpretation of the book, Caste, and you will be glued to your seat watching it. Knowing DuVernay’s history (she made documentaries like “13th”, connecting slavery to the mass incarceration of Black men), it’s not surprising that she was interested in this topic. What is amazing, however, is how she creates an investigative, fictionalized drama in which we follow Isabel’s character as she puts the pieces of the book together (from the South of the US to Germany to India), all the while her entire personal life crumbles around her. It will definitely jolt you out of your comfort zone and make you want to take action to remedy these injustices immediately.

Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor does a beautiful job of playing Wilkerson; she’s able to be searching and yet confident at the same time. She’s totally portraying a mentor to all of us, especially us women, who yearn to make a difference.


So grab the popcorn, watch this important film, and then drop your comments on my Facebook page, here.

See you at the movies!

The post See the movie, read the book! appeared first on Deborah King.
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