Caste System: An Enduring Inequality
Caste system is a rigid social hierarchy based on birth, religion, and occupation.
I am reading ‘Caste, The Origins of Our Discontent’, an Oprah’s Book Club selection by Isabel Wilkerson. Nearly every one is familiar with the caste system that has existed in India for a long time. The definition of a Caste system is above. I’m not finished with the book and am not really very far into it. However, at this point I’m feeling that the book is suggesting that the US has a Caste system as ridged as the one in India.
When you are born, the only thing that differentiates one baby from another is the color of their skin. So, by birth, you belong to a large group of people with the same skin color. Second, your family has something to do with religion, and this connection gives you two attributes that identifies your group. Finally occupation, is the third segment of you that rounds out your group. The question becomes, “Do these attributes set a rigid course for your life and for all others with the same ones?”
Which of these attributes is the most important in the US? Are people at birth, placed in society, with a rigid set of attributes that governs who they associate with, what jobs they qualify for, what level of education they can attain and generally what they will be doing when they are 25? If that’s true, what are the attributes that place you on top.
There is an enormous amount of data that relates to that question. I don’t have the time, the computer power or the skills to collate the data and come up with a meaningful answer. However, I looked at the number of state governors, corporation upper management, millionaires, members of the US government and in all cases the majority was white. Most of the white leaders were men. You draw your own conclusions.
When I finish Caste, I may have an answer. I still think of the US as the land of the free, where everyone has an equal chance to become whatever they want to be. I hope I’m right.