Oprah is sending a book on caste to US governors, mayors, CEO and college professors. The book is Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Isabel Wilkerson. The social media mogul Oprah on Tuesday said that this was her latest selection for her long-running book club and termed it as the most important one yet.
"This is a book for all of humanity and it is necessary for people who are leaders in our country to understand the origins of our discontent and what caste really means," she was quoted as saying by the CNN.
Comparing the racism in America as caste hierarchy in India and Nazi Germany, the book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents examines race in the United States as a social hierarchy, with African Americans confined to the bottom. The authors calls racism as the American caste system.
"Caste and race are neither synonymous nor mutually exclusive. They can and do coexist in the same culture and serve to reinforce each other," Wilkerson wrote about her book in an essay for The New York Times Magazine. "Race, in the United States, is the visible agent of the unseen force of caste. Caste is the bones, race the skin."
The author spoke on Tuesday to Oprah and CBS journalist Gayle King about her latest work.
"This is not a book that I wanted to write," she told Oprah and King on the show. "This is a book that compelled me, that called to me, that I felt I had no choice but to write it. And so I ended up working on this because it seemed that there were things going on that only caste could really explain."
Wilkerson said that even though the United States has made significant progress since "traditional, old school racism" such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Jim Crow era, racism persists today in other forms.
"I present our country as an old house and when you have an old house, you know that there's always work to be done on it. And when after a rain, you do not want to go into that basement sometimes because you don't want to know what you might face there, but whatever is there, you're going to have to deal with, whether you wish to or not. It's never going away until you address it," the author explained.
In 1994, Wilkerson became the first Black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism. She was recognized for her profile of a Chicago fourth-grader and for two stories about a Midwestern flood, according to the National Association of Black Journalists. Her latest book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents was published on Tuesday.