Lynn Sableman, Board President
What has COVID time been like for you? I hope you have managed to stay well. For me, there has been a wonderful confluence of material to read and time to do it. I say wonderful because I am learning something and that feels good. The WILPFstlouis ‘Caste’ book discussion on zoom has been both a revelation and wrenching actually. We zoom Tuesdays in February and March for an hour at noon. Attendees can process the historical facts while listening or weighing in on their lived experience with what Wilkerson presents. Her careful research and masterful storytelling has won her acclaim and dozens of top literature prizes. This book holds a comparison of ancient Indian, Nazi and American caste systems. This study is precise with dispassionate scientific clarity. It shows the American history that was in our blind spot, intentionally obscured by the evil that lurks within the human heart. She points out that random features and language can be used to separate and subjugate people. She uses a height analogy. Her message is that we all have so much in common we should work together to see this and enjoy each other. In the epilogue she points out that caste is hurting all of us. All the other wealthy democracies have with their taxes managed free healthcare, education through post doctoral studies, fair living wages and affordable housing. They are all smarter, healthier happier and live longer. People will invest in the common good when forces that are used to generate hate and division, like religion, are let go of to raise everyone up.
She proves that Caste is a construct and doesn’t exist except as a distraction by the wealthy and powerful few for the wealthy and powerful few. But, the truth is humans are one family, we are one on a cellular level. The colonists brought captured humans in boats wearing manacles and heavy chains to work 18 hour days and perpetually separated from family and terrorized for 400 years by all who were not of their assigned subordinate position. Those in the lowest rank of status were terrorized by a fake unwarranted assumption that whiter is smarter and better.
Oprah calls ‘Caste’ the most essential necessary read for all humanity, and has sent hundreds of copies to congress, presidential cabinet members and governors. I thought it should be mandatory for all police departments to take up and study. Why? The book is eye opening.
For a possible follow up book discussion via zoom, “My Black Friend Says…” by local author and long time Parkway High School English teacher, Heather Fleming. She says, she would be happy to join us.
Three other books I enjoyed were “The Last Children of Mill Creek” by the local author Vivian Gibson, Foner’s “Second Founding” and “The Sword and The Shield” about MLK and Malcom X by Peniel E. Joseph.