American Caste and ’90s flashbacks

Always like when I’m validated for something I said 25 years back

Wilkerson rigorously defines eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, heredity, and dehumanization. She documents the parallels with two other hierarchies in history, those of India and of Nazi Germany, and no reader will be left without a greater understanding of the price we all pay in a society torn by artificial divisions.

Source: Isabel Wilkerson

I moved to the United States in the late ’90s and my growing up “high-caste” in India meant I was fairly clueless around understanding discrimination/racism directed at me. I do remember many conversations I had with white people around stereotypes, and one of the FAQs in these conversations was around “Oh you have a caste system in India, here in the US we’re all mixed and it’s different”. Even in my relative cluelessness at that time, I remember responding with “Oh, FFS you have a caste system, it just looks different and not enough people call it that, and then if I was a couple of drinks in, would go on to discuss slavery, African-Americans, class as connected to money and more”. I’d go on to state “your racism is the same as our (I identified as Indian at that time) casteism”. So, I’m glad this book came out and was very highly regarded. I hope to read it sometime.

A version of this article was first published at Olive Ridley dot org.

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