Caste in America: Isabel Wilkerson with John Dickerson | LIVE from NYPL

America’s past and present have been molded by a “shape-shifting, unspoken, race-based caste pyramid” says Isabel Wilkerson. Will the future be the same?

The new book from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines what lies underneath the surface of American life. “As a means of assigning value to entire swaths of humankind,” Isabel Wilkerson writes in Caste: the Origin of our Discontents, “caste…embeds into our bones an unconscious ranking of human characteristics and sets forth the rules, expectations, and stereotypes that have been used to justify brutalities against entire groups within our species. In the American caste system, the signal of rank is what we call race…race is the primary tool and the visible decoy, the front man, for caste.” Told through intimate personal narratives and deeply researched history, Wilkerson examines the ties between the American caste system and those in India and Nazi Germany, and points to ways America can move beyond our artificial and destructive human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

Produced in partnership with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.


Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, is the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Warmth of Other Suns. Her debut work won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and was named to Time’s 10 Best Nonfiction Books of the 2010s and The New York Times’s list of the Best Nonfiction of All Time. She has taught at Princeton, Emory, and Boston Universities and has lectured at more than two hundred other colleges and universities across the United States and in Europe and Asia.

John Dickerson is a 60 Minutes correspondent. Prior to that, he was a co-host of CBS This Morning, the anchor of Face the Nation, and CBS News’s chief Washington correspondent. Dickerson is also a contributing writer to The Atlantic, co-host of Slate’s Political Gabfest podcast, and host of the Whistlestop podcast. Dickerson won the Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency as Slate’s chief political correspondent. Dickerson covered the White House for Time during his twelve years at the magazine. The 2020 presidential campaign will be the seventh he has covered.


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