Caste Book Club Questions

Caste Book Club Questions

Our second book club selection was Caste, and our Society of Notable Women members are still digging into this very complex book.

Like I did with Untamed, our first book club selection, I thought I would bring our Caste book club questions here so other people can enjoy them as well. I found it very challenging to craft questions for this book. The material is wonderful, rich, deep, and complicated, and as a white woman, I wanted to bring an anti-racist perspective to everything as we discussed the book.

You can read the announcement for this book, why I picked it, and more about the book itself and the author right here.

Without further ado, here you go:

Caste Book Club Questions

1. Wilkerson writes about the difference between casteism and racism. A caste is a system of hierarchy in which people enjoy varying degrees of superiority or forced subjugation based on what caste someone belongs to. How have you seen or experienced the American caste system?

2. Unlike castes, class can change with marriage, money, employment, etc. How have you witnessed class changes in your own life?

3. Race is a new concept. Irish, Italians, Poles, Czechs, and more became white for the first time in America. Either knowing this or learning this, how does this affect conversations about race you have witnessed or been part of?

4. Did you study Jim Crow laws or redlining in any American history class? If yes, how old were you and what class was it? If not, how does this information inform your perspective on current events around housing, evictions, mass incarceration, and police shootings?

5. James Baldwin said: “No one was white before he/she came to America.” Discuss what this quote means to your understanding of our current caste system.

6. One of the pillars of the American caste system is heritability, and the American system determined that the caste of a person went through the mother’s lineage. This allowed slave owners to continue to rape their female slaves and allow their children to remain slaves. Know this, how is your opinion of the American mass incarceration system affected (with 7 to 1 Black men incarcerated compared to white men).

7. Was the information about the “Purity vs Pollution” pillar new to you? How does it change your perception of American community pools and private swim clubs?

8. Is the concept of “give the wall” (lower caste stepping out of the way for upper caste) new to you? How have you experienced this in your life?

9. Erich Fromm wrote about how group narcissism – membership in a larger group determines self-worth, hatred of others, and belief in one’s own self-importance – leads to fascism. How has that played out in America in the last few decades?

10. Did you know that Nazis developed their laws regarding Jews, gypsies, and other undesirables by observing and implementing American caste laws? When did you learn this?

11. Germans are ashamed of their Nazi history in a way Americans are not ashamed of slavery. Why do you think Germany was able to humanize their victims and develop laws to enforce “never again” while America still has statues of Lee and confederate flags?

12. How has the pandemic shifted how you feel about the American caste system? What was unseen for you that is now seen?

 

And that is that! Those are the book club questions we worked through while reading Caste.

Next Steps

We would always love to have you in The Society of Notable Women. Request to join today!

And we welcome you to join us for our next book club selection, Raising Antiracist Kids: The Power of Intentional Conversations About Race and Parenting by Nicole Lee.

If you want to read the book club questions provided by the publisher, you can read those here.

October Book Club Selection: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

October Book Club Selection: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

I’m excited to announce our October pick for The Notable Woman Book Club – Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson.

I had the pleasure of meeting Isabel Wilkerson during her book tour for The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. At the time, I was working at Riverside Church, a social justice church housed in a gothic, beautiful building in Morningside Heights in New York City. I have absolutely no idea how I heard that Wilkerson was speaking at the Church that day, and I had not yet read her book. But what I did hear about her and the event intrigued me so even though I was exhausted after a long day in the theatre, I went to the talk. Wilkerson did not disappoint. She was a delight, a wealth of knowledge, and opened my eyes to a part of US history that I did not know anything about. I’m forever changed from her talk that day, which is why her new book has me so excited.

What’s Caste about?

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.

Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people–including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others–she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

Oh my gosh, right? You know this is going to be good.

And who is Isabel Wilkerson?

Isabel Wilkerson, the 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.

What are people saying about this book?

“Magnificent . . . a trailblazing work on the birth of inequality . . . Caste offers a forward-facing vision. Bursting with insight and love, this book may well help save us.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“Extraordinary . . . one of the most powerful nonfiction books I’d ever encountered . . . an instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century thus far. . . .Caste deepens our tragic sense of American history. It reads like watching the slow passing of a long and demented cortege. . . . It’s a book that seeks to shatter a paralysis of will. It’s a book that changes the weather inside a reader.”–Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“[Caste] should be at the top of every American’s reading list.”Chicago Tribune

“Wilkerson’s book is a powerful, illuminating and heartfelt account of how hierarchy reproduces itself, as well as a call to action for the difficult work of undoing it.”The Washington Post

We’ll be discussing this book in The Society of Notable Women. You can request to join here.

I recommend you buy the book from Bookshop and support a local indie bookstore. Or you can get this book from your local library! Lastly, you could get it on Amazon.

Looking forward to chatting books with you!

40. COVID-19 ‘s Effect on An Increase on Domestic & Intimate Partner Violence

40. COVID-19 ‘s Effect on An Increase on Domestic & Intimate Partner Violence

What I would hate to learn is that someone felt that they could never reach out for help because they would be taking away from people who truly needed help in the situation, and victims always truly need help. So, we’re here to support them.

Have you heard the news that COVID-19 is causing an increase in domestic violence and intimate partner violence instances? Maybe you have from journalism like this NY Times piece or this article from the Washington Post.

In China’s Hubei province, domestic violence calls nearly doubled. In Spain, their state run domestic violence website saw a 270% increase in traffic. Here in the United States, South Carolina saw a 35% increase in March from February, Houston a 20% increase, and North Carolina 18%. And most states didn’t start social distancing or lockdowns until mid March.

I have been reading the above articles so I went to my friend and guest from The Notable Woman Podcast, episode 20, Kelley Rainey, to find out what was going on and how we can help. Kelley is the Director of Domestic Violence Programs for Family and Children’s Services, and she readily agreed to be on the show and provide resources for all of us, whether we be experiencing this or be fearful that someone we know and love is.

In this third episode focused on COVID-19 episode, we talk about:

  • what domestic and intimate partner violence instances look like pre-COVID-19,
  • what’s driving what’s happening now,
  • what resources are available for people who need help,
  • what not to do that might bring harm to those that we love, and
  • what help we can give to our friends and family we’re worried about

Resources Kelley provided include:

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-7233
  • RAINN – 1-800-656-4673
  • Family & Children Services 24 hour line (Kelley’s organization) – 443-865-8031 (This is call or text)

Although Kelley’s organization serves Baltimore, Maryland and its surrounding counties, her counselors are trained specifically in COVID-19, and they can help create a safety plan that will work for you no matter where you live. You don’t need to provide your location or any identifying information.

You’re going to find this episode a short, information filled podcast with resources that can help you now or in the future.

The other episodes in this COVID-19 series are COVID-19’s Exponential Growth with Amy Simpkins and COVID-19 and Public Health Communication with Karen Hilyard.

Click here to listen on a dozen different platforms!

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I was a fan before I was a guest. Now I’ve been a guest and I’m an even greater fan! Cristin Downs is an amazing interviewer and host. She is insightful, professional and just a pleasure to work with. What comes across in the stories is as much a product of Cristin’s fierce talent in conceptualizing the episodes and finding the stories as it is the a reflection of her interesting and engaging subjects. Fantastic, Notable Women. Listen and enjoy!

If you love the show, please consider rating and reviewing the podcast! This helps more people find the show and listen to these amazing conversations. Click here, scroll to the bottom, tap to rate (with five stars, I hope!), and select “Write a Review.” I’d love to hear what you enjoyed about the episode.

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39. COVID-19 and Public Health Communication

39. COVID-19 and Public Health Communication

In this episode of The Notable Woman Podcast, I interview Dr. Karen Hilyard, a public health communication expert, on COVID-19.

This is our second episode focused on COVID-19. I wanted to start with Amy Simpkins and exponential growth because I felt like that was the first thing people were having a hard time wrapping their heads around, and now that you know how contagious this disease is and why that matters so much, Karen’s the next person we should all be listening to.

Karen’s an expert in public health communication and just so happens to be my friend. She was happy to get on and explain to me what we should be hearing from our local, state, and federal leaders, and what we should actually be doing.

 

IN THIS EPISODE, I EXPLORE:
  • What it’s like in Georgia, both personally for Karen and her larger area, which is rural and suburban (quite different than me in NYC, but also similar in how our healthcare systems will respond)
  • Briefly discuss exponential growth (check out Amy’s episode for more information on that)
  • What people are still doing that they shouldn’t be – like block parties and play dates
  • Plain language guidance about what we should be doing instead
  • History on the US pandemic response plan from George W. Bush’s administration
  • Amazing tips for organizations not sure how to communicate about COVID-19
  • What we can be advocating for in our own communities, like funds for people who are food insecure and halting evictions
  • Why we should be concerned about civil liberties and the best way to make sure we maintain our rights
  • Who is doing a good job communicating right now
  • The testing debacle

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did creating it. You can listen now, right here from this webpage by clicking the play button below.

Prefer Apple Podcasts? Android user? Go to Overcast here or Google Podcasts here. Pocket Casts? Radio Public? Something else? And of course, if you loved the episode, a review is always appreciated! 

EPISODE RESOURCES INCLUDE (affiliate links included):

Today’s Guest

Karen Hilyard

“Without testing in place, we weren’t able to do that. And we were not able to sound the alarm, and it was a critical missed step in which we will never know how many people have actually had the virus. And we certainly missed some opportunity to take action when we could have perhaps slowed the spread.”

Hi, I’m Cristin, and you’ve found The Notable Woman.

If not us, then who? If not now, then when? Here at The Notable Woman, we’re energizing 51% of the population to forge the new norm. Podcast, summits, online community, and more, all designed to connect you to your power within so we can transform the world. Join my free Facebook group, and let’s get started today.

Free Meditation: Stop Self Sabotage

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Get notified when a new podcast episode releases

About Karen Hilyard

Karen Hilyard, Ph.D. is a behavioral scientist and communication strategist who trains and advises state, federal, and global clients on both routine and crisis communication.  Beginning in 2006, she was part of a CDC-funded team that spent three years training public health communicators how to implement the federal pandemic preparedness and response plan.  She has written extensively about social distancing and other government directives during a pandemic.   

Connect with Karen:

Support the podcast

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People who support my work through their work:

Leave a voicemail for The Notable Woman!

Call my Google voice number at (213) 340-4231 ‬and leave a voicemail, and you might just find yourself in the next episode of The Notable Woman!

The Notable Woman Website

If you’re viewing these show notes from one of the platforms the podcast is distributed to, head on over to the website at www.thenotablewoman.com for more resources, additional episodes, and more!

38. COVID-19’s Exponential Growth with Amy Simpkins

38. COVID-19’s Exponential Growth with Amy Simpkins

In this bringing the podcast back episode, I interview self proclaimed data nerd Amy Simpkins about COVID-19’s exponential growth.

I’ve been personally off the grid due to the death of my father. He was one of my favorite people to walk the earth. A good egg. He went on hospice in December and then passed away in January. While we sat together each evening, with my mother too, we saw reports about a virus in Wuhan which eventually became a global pandemic.

Not quite sure what to do – who really knows right now? – I decided to create a series of resources Notable Women might need to get by right now, and they’re all housed in “The Social Distancing Summit.” You can find that in The Society of Notable Women right here. 

We’ve got experts on fear. anxiety, and stress; activities for tiny humans, and interviews like this one here with Amy Simpkins.

Amy is the CEO of muGrid Analytics, and she and her husband Travis created a data project looking at the exponential growth of COVID-19. You can find their work at humansvsvirus.com. The more we flatten the curve, the more likely we can beat the virus!! (I always see Bill Pullman’s speech in Independence Day in my head at this moment.)

One of the things I’ve noted as I talk to people about this virus is that don’t understand why people freak out when there’s 3, or 7, or even in the case of New York City, 300 cases in your community. Ah, my friend, that is what Amy is here to explain.

IN THIS EPISODE, I EXPLORE:
  • Why Amy’s the right person to talk to about this
  • Why Amy’s personally interested in the data around COVID-19
  • An explanation of some of the terms you’ve been hearing – R naught value and CFR
  • What COVID-19’s doubling time is
  • How we can #flattenthecurve

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did creating it. You can listen now, right here from this webpage by clicking the play button below.

Prefer Apple Podcasts? Android user? Go to Overcast here or Google Podcasts here. Pocket Casts? Radio Public? Something else? And of course, if you loved the episode, a review is always appreciated! 

EPISODE RESOURCES INCLUDE (affiliate links included):

Today’s Guest

Amy Simpkins

“Seriously, get your head around – it’s going to be awhile. And if it’s less than that while, we’ll all be super duper happy.”

Hi, I’m Cristin, and you’ve found The Notable Woman.

If not us, then who? If not now, then when? Here at The Notable Woman, we’re energizing 51% of the population to forge the new norm. Podcast, summits, online community, and more, all designed to connect you to your power within so we can transform the world. Join my free Facebook group, and let’s get started today.

Free Meditation: Stop Self Sabotage

Join the free book club

Get notified when a new podcast episode releases

About Amy Simpkins

Amy Simpkins is the Chief Executive Officer of MuGrid Analytics, and has over 15 years of experience in technical engineering and project management of complex systems and software.
 
Prior to joining muGrid, Amy was an engineer and spacecraft systems architect with Lockheed Martin, where she worked on advanced R&D and design integration for earth observing and manned spacecraft. In this capacity, she assessed architectural choices based on design performance, operational power constraints, and program finance. Amy also spent several years in flight operations for unmanned scientific exploration spacecraft, where she helped monitor and manage the solar array performance, energy storage systems, and power budgets of long duration deep space missions. Her technical expertise includes system and software architecture, system-level performance modeling, and design tradespace analysis.
 
 
Amy has coached and consulted on product innovation, business strategy, marketing, and sales for startups and small businesses in the renewable energy, healthcare, and SaaS sales spaces. She is an internationally recognized speaker on innovation and integration for entrepreneurs and is author of the book, Spiral: A Catalyst for Innovation and Expansion (Amazon). She holds an MS in Astronautical Engineering from the University of Southern California and an SB in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Connect with Amy:

If you liked this episode, check out:

Support the podcast

People like you keep The Notable Woman alive through your Patreon support! There are great perks at every level, starting from just $2/month.

People who support my work through their work:

Leave a voicemail for The Notable Woman!

Call my Google voice number at (213) 340-4231 ‬and leave a voicemail, and you might just find yourself in the next episode of The Notable Woman!

The Notable Woman Website

If you’re viewing these show notes from one of the platforms the podcast is distributed to, head on over to the website at www.thenotablewoman.com for more resources, additional episodes, and more!

Let’s Start a Movement! with Joanna Novelo

Let’s Start a Movement! with Joanna Novelo

COMMUNITY STRATEGIST JOANNA NOVELO

The Notable Woman is proud to present the Super U Summit, 30 empowering women speakers over 10 days.

In this Super U Summit Talk, community strategist Joanna Novelo presents: Realizing Your Vision Via Community.

WHO’S JOANNA?

Joanna Novelo understands the power behind having an engaged community. As a community strategist, Joanna helps entrepreneurs create unique and engaging experiences for their communities so their fans turn into repeat customers. By making audiences feel seen, heard, and taken care of, Joanna helps some of the biggest names on the internet create win-win situations where community members are thrilled and businesses thrive.

TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE TALK TOPIC

We’ll talk about how creating a community can help you bring your vision to life and amplify your message.

HOW TO WATCH

Please join us by clicking on the link below, which will take you to Joanna’s video in the Society for Notable Women Facebook group. (You must join the group to see the video.)

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