Book Discussion: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
PART FIVE: The Consequences of Caste
Chapter Nineteen: The Euphoria of Hate
Chapter Twenty: The Inevitable Narcissism of Caste
Chapter Twenty-One: The German Girl with the Dark Wavy Hair
Chapter Twenty-Two: The Stockholm Syndrome & the Survival of the Subordinate Caste
Chapter Twenty-Three: Shock Troops on the Border of Heirarchy
Chapter Twenty-Four: Cortisol, Telomeres & the Lethality of Caste
GOAL: This part of Caste has looked at the various ways in which the lower castes either accept or challenge the caste system. If reflects on how it cushions the egos of higher castes but can remain harmful to them at the same time. It makes a point about the embarrassment caste members feel once the system is challenged and how even those who see themselves as lower caste might seek to maintain it for their own survival.
The first chapter of Part Five looks at a rally held by Hitler in 1940, and specifically at the crown gathered to welcome him. Consider whether you have ever been at a mass event or part of a mass movement that you have secretly felt uncomfortable with. Why did you feel that way? What would have been the consequences of speaking out against it?
Wilkerson shares how popular culture is awash with reflections of the dominant caste. When you consume cultural products or entertainment how much of it resembles you or your caste? Are there any elements of mass culture that you feel more or less comfortable with?
Key Takeaways from Part Five:
Mass euphoria can often stem from mass relief in a caste system restored or maintained.
Popular culture is often a mirror for those within the dominant class.
Those who stray from the dominant caste or seek to upend the caste system can seem disturbing or embarrassing.
There are some within the lower castes who would rather maintain their status out of fear.
Adherence to a caste system can have severe health effects on both the lower and higher castes.
These are actions suggested by the author to begin to integrate these ideas into our daily lives. They are offered for personal reflection and action
Next time you find yourself at a mass event, consider whether the euphoria you feel is genuine or carefully cultivated to keep you satisfied with your caste.
Be mindful of how popular culture reflects you and how cultural leaders might exploit an idealized version of yourself.
If the way someone looks makes you uncomfortable, ask yourself why.
If you suspect that someone is being mistreated due to their caste, figure out what you can do to safely intervene and challenge it.