Jun 10, 2021ACL_ChrisS rated this title 4 out of 5 stars
Really important and really emotionally challenging, as it should be. I had to stop reading it for a period of days to regain some equilibrium; the events and experiences she writes about, both personal and historical, are heart-wrenching and horrific. Not surprising to anyone who has studied history. But read together, and after all that has happened recently, made for a thought-provoking and challenging read. Again, as it should be.
I think her main thesis is best summed up in the review I read in "The New Republic": "for African Americans, class matters less than race and racism, its endurance foreclosing the possibilities of any true ascent in status—a tension that she seeks to illuminate by seeing through the lens of caste and casteism." As you would expect from Wilkerson, the book is clearly written, impeccably researched, and compelling. It's not a traditional work of narrative nonfiction or academic nonfiction, but a series of essays and anecdotes all working toward her goal.
I loved her discussion at the end about radical empathy, and I can see how books like this one can help develop empathy in others who can read it with an open heart and mind.