Caste Book Club – Section 2 Questions

Meeting #2 on Sunday March 1 at 5:00 PM – Consequences and response to Caste (Parts 4-6, pp. 165-359).

  1. The teacher, Jane Elliott who conducted the Brown eyes vs Blue eyes experiment said if discrimination can be learned it can be unlearned.  Do you agree? Can you think of an equivalent precedent where we’ve ‘unlearned’ a wrong belief?
  2. Isabel Wilkerson in chapter 11 attributes the feel for heightened need of caste due to “increased malaise of insecurities” felt by the least well off of the dominant caste. Do you feel we can break down caste without addressing these insecurities first?
  3. In chapter 13 Alpha & Underdog, Isabel Wilkerson states that often the most qualified leader was not chosen for a position but rather someone less qualified from the dominant caste.  Have you personally witnessed this? Do you feel this is a larger issue of members of the subordinate caste not being allowed to compete?
  4. How did you feel reading the stories of unspoken caste treatment in Chapter 14?
  5. Do you believe we can both highlight the poor conditions of the subordinate caste i.e. avg median net worth of white families in Boston = $247,000, avg median African-american families = $8, higher incarceration rates, etc while reducing news reporting that falsely stigmatizing African-american as a synonym for poor, uneducated, violent?
  6. Has reading this book thus far changed how aware you are of events in the news?
  7. In Chapter 20 Isabel Wilkerson writes that many Americans seek to locate themselves in a hierarchy of nationality even if subtle.  Have you witnessed that in your lives?
  8. What do you feel about the debate amongst democrat political leadership of progressive reform that can break down caste vs progress through more ‘cross the aisle’ compromise?
  9. What is surprising to you the comparison between how Germany has dealt with their caste system history vs how the United States has?  How does this insight make you feel?
  10. What is your opinion of Taylor Branch’s question at the end of Chapter 28 “If given the choice between democracy & whiteness, how many people would choose whiteness?”