Wilkerson uncovers the very deep-rooted realities of why racism still exists and never dies. Slavery exists because the caste system is the core system of the United States. White becomes the standard race. Blacks, Latino, Asians, any other people of color are below the white race.
Caste is a "fix and rigid" (Wilkerson 16) foundation of the race that is invisible but always present. It is the very root of racism in the United States. Wilkerson carefully defined the types and causes of the caste system, why it is the root of racism. Slavery of blacks becomes the example of Wilkerson.
The eight pillars of caste, including the occupational hierarchy, provide the chronological history of racism. There is a caste system with Nazi Germany, in India, and America. Nazi Germany borrows the Jim Crow law from the United States, learning how to hate the Jews, and they feel that they are superior to the Jews, they looked down on and revokes the freedom of the Jews. Jews have fewer rights to work and to be in a higher place because the Nazi forbids since they are not real Germans. The Indian Caste system is like the system in America. The influential people who have the most power are always white, and other people of color have less advantage because they have limitations.
Wilkerson recalls the moments of great examples of discrimination during the time of Martin Luther King Jr. during his fight against the racial system. Not because a white man has a black friend means that he is not a racist at all. Racism is far more interred in the bones and the ancestry that no matter how difficult a man tries to convince himself that racism does not exist, it is evident in the workplace, the government because the structure of the American culture has a root in racism. The functionalism of society gets based on the patterns of the past.
Wilkerson should also add the long history of the colonial construction of America during the European times of colonialism that built the caste system in the United States. Furthermore, the caste system is interweaving with religion, ethnicity, and class. The racial inequality acquired a new form that disguises.
The cultural and religious system allows racial discrimination because the class system is dependent on the social structure. The birth of a person determines the social standing, according to the lineage. Feudal Europe still has the post-colonial effect in America, separating class.
Apartheid denies people to own land and reduce their rights of owning land and having the jobs they want. Jim Crow law is one example that Wilkerson used in the book that is still existing. Although it is still blurred, the class categories are present, and that is why social mobility is a mere advantage that hardly exists.
Meritocracy is meant to be open and believed that drives every individual to have the mobility to rise above their current standards. However, meritocracy blurs the hidden structural factors that affect the influence of class standing. Everyone gets made to believe that an individual is the cause of his or her poverty and misery because America is free, and there is no class system. Nevertheless, it is evident that racism still exists because of the caste system embedded in the social structure.
The American class system limits the opportunity for individuals. There is always social stratification in the United States. The segregation of caste has long gotten established during the history of slavery. Whites become at the top of the caste system. The Latinos and Asians are in the middle, and the Blacks are in the lowest part of the Caste system. Even if the world seems to have diversity, the Caste structure is like the grammar of the race that becomes the invisible guide of racism. In America, "you have to learn how to be white" (Wilkerson 26) because the standard of humanity is white, and other colors get positioned below the white. The problem of white supremacy that people keep denying that it does not exist, but people struggle to identify but feel otherwise.
The use of the term Caucasian is arbitrary used that should not be called a race. There is no race. All of us come from different areas, and the race is a social concept that is created by colonizers. The idea of the race gets made to establish a privilege among others. That is why Wilkerson said that the Caste system might be existing in America a long time ago. The Caste system is in social influence.
The sociological imagination has a massive impact on race and equality. Because the people get built as divided into different levels and status. The social category denies that we are all equal, regardless of color. People accept the division of race because it is what gets thought years ago. Whiteness is the standard of being the superior race, and the whiter than "white" belongs to a different category and class system.
Racism is a systematic power that builds discrimination among people. Nowadays, racism becomes hate, a mere feeling that every individual avoids and convince themselves that it does not exist in their bones. However, the race is not a feeling or an emotion towards an individual. It is the action that is rooted in the system. The caste system seems invisible but works in every place.
Living in the United States, fulfilling the American Dream is said to be free and open-ended. The status is not dependent on birth but profession, skills, education, and ability. Many people claim that the reason a man is in poverty is because of the lack of skills. However, education plays a massive role in building the skills and abilities of an individual. Wilkerson defies the notion that there is no racism in the system through this. She wants to make people understand that history has a vast effect and influence on the modern Caste system that is the strength of the race. Education is needed to acquire skills that are essential to get a profession, which gives a man the ability to change his status. However, the necessary training and education often get denied to those who need it. That is why there is still racism involved in the social class structure. The functionalism that every individual has a role in society puts the oppressed at the bottom. Those are the people of color, most of all, the blacks.
Wilkerson defines it as race and caste become the factor of the decisions across gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and other things that create subsequent events in life. The policies rely on the beliefs that affect the country and its people. The caste in India, according to Wilkerson, is parallel to the system of America. Although in America, it is the invisible caste.
The law of nature and the divine will is one of the strongest pillars of the caste system that originated from the sacred texts, which is interpreted by the people who deemed themselves as higher than others. That is why the belief of the human gets founded through the Laws of nature. It is true that the religion, no matter how diverse the belief system is, there are people who stay at the top who believe that they are superior, and there are also subordinates.
The second pillar of caste is Heritability, which Wilkerson believes is the clear lines of ranking beginning at birth. Slavery existed because White people believe that they are superior to other colors. Each person at birth has a rank and keep their ranking in society.
The third pillar that Wilkerson discussed that very well-defined is Endogamy. It enforces the boundaries on class, forbidding any marriage outside the caste or social status. It became the firewall for other marginal groups. The lower group remains at the bottom, while the upper class keeps the class status.
The emerging caste system in America prohibits the white to have a relationship with a black person. It is against the teaching and honor that gets bestowed upon them. The same is what also happened to Nazi Germany with the treatment of the Jews. The Jews get seen as rats and the lowest class of society.
How Wilkerson provided the details of the history of colonialism and post-colonialism defines the caste system that created the political system in America. She has carefully input the details, compared and contrasted the caste system of India with the social arrangement of the United States. It is much easier to understand how race becomes invisible but present in the lives of all people.
Wilkerson also contrasted the Jim Crow system with Nazi Germany's treatment of the Jews, which is parallel to what happened during the early history of America. The use of Nazi Germany as an example magnifies the caste system that gets embedded in the social organization of America. The race system has never gets deleted from history. It becomes hidden in the sense of the democracy that is still handled by the wealthy.
Dehumanization and Stigma is another pillar of a manufactured caste within society. Dehumanization does not happen to one person but the whole group of marginalized people. Dehumanization locks out people of marginalized groups out of the system in a way that is still reasonable. The dilemma falls upon those who get oppressed. Germany blames the Jews for failing in World War I, and White Americans are blaming African-Americans for economic failure and social tribulations. The Stigma and dehumanization still often happen today. Unfortunately, the race and class system get bonded in the caste system of America. Many people fought for freedom and equality. However, that gets denied because of the sociological imagination that there is a structure of dominance in the world. The book is a call for change that the caste system shout gets reformed.
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Wilkerson, Isabel. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. , 2020. Print.