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Isabel Wilkerson was born in Washington, D.C. She received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Howard University. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her work as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times in 1994, making her the first black woman in the history of American journalism to win a mostra altro Pulitzer Prize and the first African-American to win for individual reporting. She also won the George Polk Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and she was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists. Her first book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, won the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the 2011 Anisfield-Wolf Award for Nonfiction, the 2011 Hillman Book Prize, the 2011 Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the Stephen Ambrose Oral History Prize, the Independent Literary Award for Nonfiction, and the NAACP Image Award for best literary debut. She has been a journalism professor at Princeton University and Emory University. She is currently Professor of Journalism and Director of Narrative Nonfiction at Boston University. (Bowker Author Biography) mostra meno
Fonte dell'immagine: Joe Henson/Penguin Random House

Opere di Isabel Wilkerson

Opere correlate

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race (2016) — Collaboratore — 867 copie
Race, Class, and Gender in the United States: An Integrated Study (1992) — Collaboratore, alcune edizioni518 copie


Informazioni generali



This is an amazing book. An important book. And, at times, extremely hard to take. Dissecting the similarities between Nazi Germany, the Jim Crow Era Southern United States, and the caste system of India, a common thread of human rankings emerges. And it is troubling, to say the least. Interspersed are the author's own experiences as a woman of color, demonstrating the continued prevalence of racism in modern times, as well as historical vignettes that stand as yet more reminders that no matter how much I learn, there are still new horrors to discover about life in my home country before the Civil Rights Movement. But the point of this book isn't to shame anyone. No one alive today was around during slavery. But as the author points out, when you have a house with structural issues, you don't stand around claiming that because you didn't cause the problems, you shouldn't have to address them. No, you fix the problems with the house, no matter how many generations ago the damage was done. Same with one's country.… (altro)
melydia | 166 altre recensioni | Jun 13, 2024 |
A thoroughly researched and engaging history of the great migration of Black Americans from the south to the north in the first half of the twentieth century. This history is told from the perspectives of three different people from different areas of the south whose stories exemplify the experiences of many Black Americans who made similar journeys. Wilkerson expertly weaves their stories into the the larger story of American history and engages the reader in the lives of each of these people, and by the end of the book you feel like you've really gotten to know these people and are sad to let them go.… (altro)
jenkies720 | 185 altre recensioni | Jun 7, 2024 |
During the 20th century, many American southern black individuals and families made a choice to go north. This is considered a Great Migration. They migrated for the same reasons various other peoples throughout history migrated. When life in their region became untenable, they left to places where there was hope of a better life. For improved social and economic opportunities. Going to where they could be employed in their chosen fields. Moving away from where they were relentlessly persecuted, to where there were less social restrictions and fears. Reluctant to leave, but they left in search for freedom.

The end of the American Civil War established liberties for black individuals. But in the south, by the end of the 19th century, laws were created to segregate the peoples. The Jim Crow laws removed the previously gained liberties. But the era was different, with black individuals not restricted to a region. The south did not want to lose the quality labor, and created laws to try and keep black individuals. Yet black individuals found ways to leave. Migrating north. What black individuals found in the north was much better, but not ideal. The north did not have segregation laws, but socially were still able to enforce segregation. Black individuals left the dangers of the south, but the north had dangers as well. Those who migrated could not warn their successors of the different dangers. Nor did the north have the social cohesion that they had in the south, in which the community members would have looked after each other.

Persecution and Jim Crow Laws:
Circa early 20th century, there were black individuals with no personal account of slavery. They were free, but not free. They lived under Jim Crow. Jim Crow laws had official discrimination laws, but also unofficial social custom rituals. Breaking a minor ritual or gesture, would have quickly led to the black individual being assaulted. Everyday interactions favored white individuals, and subordinated black individuals.

Sharecroppers were pinned to the land. The master kept sharecroppers in debt, by not giving the sharecropper what they earned. The sharecropper could not contradict the master, because that would have had terrible consequences. The good bosses at least allowed the sharecroppers to break even, rather than get the sharecropper further into debt.

As planters wanted to keep labor, they kept the sharecropper in debt. The planter claimed that the sharecropper owned money, and needed to pay off the debt, even if there was no actual debt. That meant that sharecroppers either worked for free, or became fugitives if they did not. Should a sharecropper keep a record, it would not matter because black individual records did not count. The reason for the lack of justice, was because black individuals could not make or enforce their demands.

WW1 created a labor shortage. Wartime labor shortages created various creative ways to force individuals into working. Those caught not working were arrested, and obtained fines which were needed to be paid off working. This was debt peonage, which was an illegal form of contemporary slavery.

Younger individuals did not obtain their predecessors debts, did not want to be coerced, and were not satisfied with working on plantations. WW1 opened up a lot of jobs in the North, and the younger individuals were willing to go North. They went North for the income, and because there was more liberty there.

There were those who went north for work, but later came back to the south. The problem was that their perspectives have changed. They became accustomed to fair wages, and various freedoms and liberties. They had become used to their life not being in danger for even minor social infractions. Going back south, the dissatisfaction with the lower income caused them to form groups and hold out for higher wages.

Those who earned money received more than they even through possible. Not because it was a lot of money, but because it was far more than was possible in the past. This was only due to the war. They disapproved of the war, but secretly also did not want it to end.

There was a huge disparity in pay between white and black individuals. White individuals could provide for their successors, and therefore accumulate wealth. Black individuals could barely provide for themselves, and thereby save enough for successors. This created an intergenerational disparity wealth gap. A name was the only thing black individuals could give their successors, making that name very important. Communities utilized the same beloved names.

Migration, and The North:
Those who left the south, took memories of the south with them. Being reminded, by insignificant things, of the where they came from. Generally, the more ambitious the migrant, the further they are willing to go and overcome greater obstacles. Migration requires energy, and planning. A desire and willingness to act. They are more likely to be better educated than those of their original regions, and more motivated. Leading them to become successful in the new region.

In the north, black individuals were allowed to vote. But they were not really sure how, but learned. Their ability to vote changed who got into office. And were able to remove individuals who wanted to keep the power to abuse black individuals. In the south, black individual knew better than to try to vote even if they had the option.

Although there were no segregation laws in the north, people still found ways to segregate based on race. To degrade black values and individuals. As black individuals earned money, they started to move into better neighborhoods. Neighborhoods that were primarily white. There was an assumption that black individuals would reduce the value of the neighborhood, which set an expectation that lowered the retail value of the neighborhood. With falling prices, white individuals could not finance investments. Leading to many white people selling what they had at low prices and leaving the neighborhood. White people left in advance of any black individuals moving there.

Many who left the south due to dangers, did not consider the different dangers of the places that they moved to. They were usually small-town individuals, moving to urban environments without knowing the problems of their new region. In the south, migrants had a community that could warn the people of dangers, and watch other others. But where the migrants moved to, they did not have a support network. They were not warned of the dangers of drugs, guns, and violence. They did not know these dangers, and therefore could not warn their children of these dangers. The conditions of the northern cities brought down many migrants.

The book is composed of mostly narrative and examples. Not much explanation of the content. The history is told from the perspective of various peoples, with different stories to tell about their migration. Can be hard to keep track of the different narratives.

The book is polarizing. Showing the struggles of black individuals, and how they were persecuted by white individuals. The problem is what is not expressed, that not all white people supported Jim Crow laws. The white people who undermined Jim Crow laws. The caste system is very difficult to overcome, from each perspective.
… (altro)
Eugene_Kernes | 185 altre recensioni | Jun 4, 2024 |
A caste system creates divisions and hierarchy. Caste ranks human values. Pits the presumed supremacy of one group, against the presumed inferiority of another. Caste systems are socially constructed. They are a social infrastructure that maintains itself by giving people subconscious instructions. Members keep to arbitrary boundaries, and keep to their assigned roles. Unlike class which is a malleable social standing depending on socioeconomic status. Caste is usually immutable and based on ancestry. Caste assigns meaning to people, and the roles they are permitted or required to perform. Caste systems determine power, resource allocation, and many psychological attributes.

The social problems of caste cannot be resolved by avoiding them. Ignoring the past does not reduce its impact on the present. Social problems have historic precedents, which need to be understood to consider how to resolve them. Even though the inheritors of the caste system might not have created the problem or participated in persecution, they are still responsible for the problems, to prevent further deterioration, and find resolutions.

Hierarchy, and its Maintenance:
Caste can take on many forms. Assigning power based on where the individual is from, the individual’s religion, or even race. The focus of this book is on race. Human hierarchies are older than race divisions. Race hierarchies are relatively new. Race was proven a fiction by DNA. Race is a social construct, that is held as a sacred truth.

The meaning of racism has been eroded. Racism is seen as an overt expression of hatred against another group based on race. The problem caused by having this narrow view of racism, prevents considering the toxic behaviors that form racism. Racism are the experienced toxic behaviors and social instruction gathered over life. Exposing individual racist acts or people distracts from considering the system that created the individual.

Within a racial caste, purity determines status. Depending on the classification of how pure the ancestry should be, determines admittance to the dominant caste. With the Unites States, even a little bit of impurity would disqualify someone from the dominant caste.

Rather than give negative characteristics to individuals, it is much easer to stigmatize a group. Group stigmatization results in loss of individuality. To continue stigmatization, all it takes is silence by those who disagree. Rewarding those who participate in providing terror.

A stigma used against lower caste members is to make them appear polluted. That contact with the lower caste can pollute the upper caste. Much of the pollution or dirtiness came from the type of work that ancestors did.

When the lower caste starts to succeed, it creates a violent backlash. Success is not an assigned role of the lower caste. Myths of superiority are given to upper caste members. Who will do not permit lower caste member achievements, to prevent appearance of equality.

To survive, the lower caste members need to become experts in understanding the behavior and thoughts of the upper caste members. They must learn to adjust themselves to the upper caste expectations.

Even without physical violence, the caste system can still hurt lower caste members. Psychological attacks, such as prejudice, can cause many physical reactions that increases the risk of premature death.

India, Nazi Germany, and United States are three caste systems that are provided and compared with. Focusing mainly on United States caste systems.

Race is how American caste system assigns power. Before race, religion defined power. Christianity defined status, privileging those coming from Europeans. The native population formed the lower caste and forced to work, while the Europeans were exempt. As the native population proved difficult to enslave, the colonists imported Africans. When slavery was ending, laws were created to keep the lower caste members in their status. Breaching the caste system meant danger, and even death. An American paradox of proclaiming liberty for all, while holding subsets of citizens in subjugation.

India’s caste system is based on surnames. Bound to a belief in reincarnation that the one’s circumstance is based on prior life’s deeds.

Nazis looked to the United States for guidance on racial separation and purity.

Difficulty of Resolutions:
Within caste systems, there are consequences to belonging to different groups. Understanding the humanity of the lower caste, means not being able to avoid recognizing the harm done to them. This recognition is seen as a defect by the upper caste members. Upper caste members can persecute their member who shows sympathy with the lower caste members.

It is very difficult to stand against the group that is persecuting others. Standing against injustice has consequences, such as scorn from society.

Identifying offenders will not actually stop the underlying problem. Need to address the causes of the underlying behavior.

Forgiveness can be seen as absolution for problems. Even though the problems keep continuing, forgiveness is being asked of.

The book is polarizing. Historic events and institutions are simplified. The details left out would have provided a more complex understanding of the situation. The details that are kept, are those that make the argument against the upper caste appear stronger. Making nearly all upper caste members appear to be persecuting others with hatred, while the lower caste members appear mostly innocent.

The focus on negative reinforcement of caste, perpetuates negative values. The author makes the case that creating an understanding that lower caste members have value is a resolution to the caste system, but there are not many positive values provided. The showcased experiences of lower caste individuals, are all negative. But, lower caste individuals have a lot of diverse experiences, not all of which are negative.

To end the caste system, the main solution appears to be enlightenment. For the upper caste people to become enlightened, they need an understanding that difference caste individuals have value. This is problematic because it appears that only the upper caste individuals need enlightenment. Every individual, no matter the caste, can become enlightened and understand that others have value. Each individual can do a lot to improve social situations.

Communication is needed for the different caste members to understand each other’s values. And the author asks to listen to other caste members. The problem is that this is not simple. As the author points out, that given the sensitivity of the topic, many will pretend that there is no need to discuss the topic because they are not part of the problem. But there is more to the reason why it is difficult to talk about topic, as often it is neither side which wants to allow the other side to speak. In many contexts, the discussions stop when complexity is introduced. When the other side expresses experiences or history that the other side denies. Ending discussions with more prejudice. Discussion and communication are needed to resolve the divisions and conflicts that exist, but that require a willingness of each side to listen and engage with the other side, rather than just dismiss their views.

Within the book, everything is seen through a racial perspective. There are other reasons than just race. Which the author recognizes, but does not provide the other reasons. From politics, to individual behaviors, everything appears to be just about race. Alternative explanations are not really considered.

There are many groups that faced racial discrimination in the United States, but the focus is mainly on Black experiences. There is a lack of information about how other groups handled the discrimination. Considering how other groups overcame or did not overcome racial discrimination, can provide guidance as to how Black individuals can overcome racial discrimination.
… (altro)
Eugene_Kernes | 166 altre recensioni | Jun 4, 2024 |


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