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Headshot of Isabel Wilkerson next to an image of the cover of her book, Caste

All-Church Read – Fall 2021

October 18, 2021

CASTE: The Origins of our Discontents
by Isabel Wilkerson

Isabel Wilkerson is a former NY Times reporter and current scholar. Her previous work, The Warmth of Other Suns, won the Pulitzer Prize and recounts the great migration of African Americans from the south to cities in the North during the middle part of the 20th century.

Join us this fall as we read her latest Pulitzer Prize-winning book, which has been hailed as one of the landmark works of the 21st century.

In Caste, Wilkerson explores and analyzes three state-sanctioned racist systems that were intentionally implemented by their larger society: Nazi Germany, India, and the 19th and 20th century United States. Beyond race, class, or other factors, Wilkerson argues that a powerful caste system influences people’s lives and behavior, and the nation’s fate. Along the way she shares riveting stories about people including Martin Luther King, Jr., Satchel Page, and less well-known figures from U.S. history and Wilkerson’s own life.

All members and friends of First Parish are invited to read Caste and then join us for three programs this fall intended to facilitate discussion, dialogue and critical reflection.  The first program will feature a recorded interview with Isabel Wilkerson and a facilitated discussion.  The second program will comprise small group discussions with several local community leaders joining us.  The third program will feature a scholar and thinker of some renown holding forth on the topic of race in America.

During each program time will be given to critical reflection on the arguments and claims made by the author and larger issues currently in the headlines such as “Critical Race Theory.”  We seek to ask questions and listen to different viewpoints. These are the sorts of questions we hope to explore:

  • Can people acknowledge the reality of racism in our society, historically and currently, while not endorsing specific controversial reform movements such as “defund the police?”
  • How do we contribute positively to the emergence of a 21st multi-cultural United States of America?
  • What can a community like Weston do given the history of our country and region?
  • What obligation do any of us have for the actions of previous generations?

Stay tuned for more details in September.  In the meantime, you are invited to read Caste and consult our new Anti-Racism Resource Page.


  1. Part 1 – Video Presentation & Discussion of Interview with Isabel Wilkerson
    Sunday, November 14, 2021

    This initial event was the first of three programs intended to facilitate discussion, dialogue, and critical reflection about race in America. For this event, we held a screening of a pre-recorded video interview followed by a discussion time about various topics from the book and about larger issues such as Critical Race Theory. We considered a myriad of questions and offered different viewpoints and perspectives.
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  2. Part 2 – Zebra Friends podcast recording – “What Can Weston Do?”
    Wednesday, January 26, 2022

    As Part 2 of our year-long program around Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, we will have a live discussion about the book featuring the Zebra Friends Podcast hosts Sara Hunter and Katani Sumner. They will discuss the importance of personal connection, including their own which originated on the “butterfly wings” of the Weston and Boston residents who began the Weston METCO program and founded Roxbury-Weston. Learn more here.
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  3. Part 3 – TBD
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