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496 pages, Hardcover
First published August 4, 2020
Those in the dominant caste who found themselves lagging behind those seen as inherently inferior potentially faced an epic existential crisis. To stand on the same rung as those perceived to be of a lower caste is seen as lowering one's status. In the zero-sum stakes of a caste system upheld by perceived scarcity, if a lower-caste person goes up a rung, an upper-caste person comes down. The elevation of others amounts to a demotion of oneself, thus equality feels like a demotion.Coming across the passage above was a eureka moment, a lightning strike going off in my head. It immediately made me think of the now-famous quote that showed up around the time of Trump: "Equal rights for others does not mean less rights for you. It's not pie." I had long puzzled over the necessity of stating this obvious fact, and why it was that a significant portion of the American population did not seem to agree with it. And the paragraph above, along with this entire book, has finally given me the answer, a comprehensive explanation for all that has confused me for so long.
Under the spell of caste, the [baseball] majors, like society itself, were willing to forgo their own advancement and glory, and resulting profits, if these came at the hands of someone seen as subordinate.My God, how the human race has cheated itself by its sustained deployment of the caste system.
A caste system is an artificial construction, a fixed and embedded ranking of human value that sets the presumed supremacy of one group against the presumed inferiority of other groups...
In the American caste system, the signal of rank is what we call race, the division of humans.
"As a social or human division," wrote the political scientist Andrew Hacker of the use of physical traits to form human categories, "it surpasses all others - even gender - in intensity and subordination."
The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power—which groups have it and which do not. It is about resources—which caste is seen as worthy of them and which are not, who gets to acquire and control them and who does not. It is about respect, authority, and assumptions of competence—who is accorded these and who is not.
The anthropologist Ashley Montagu was among the first to argue that race is a human invention, a social construct, not a biological one, and that in seeking to understand the divisions and disparities in the United States, we have typically fallen into the quicksand and mythology of race. “When we speak of the race problem in America,” he wrote in 1942, “what we really mean is the caste system and the problems which that caste system creates in America.
Empathy is no substitute for the experience itself. ...
Radical empathy is not about you and what you think you would do in a situation you have never been in and perhaps never will. It is the kindred connection from a place of deep knowing that opens your spirit to the pain of another as they perceive it. ...
The price of privilege is the moral duty to act when one sees another person treated unfairly.