While working on her Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Warmth of Other Suns, about the Great Migration of African Americans out of the Jim Crow South, Isabel Wilkerson realized that the United States had an unspoken and deeply ingrained caste system.
In her new book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, a #1 New York Times bestseller and Oprah’s Book Club pick, Wilkerson explores the impact of this American caste system—a rigid hierarchy of human divisions—and its connections to caste systems in India and Nazi Germany. She documents how the Nazis studied American race laws as they planned the German Nuremberg Laws, and she points forward to ways that we can move beyond artificial and destructive separations towards a common humanity.
In this program, Wilkerson and Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl, Senior Rabbi at New York’s Central Synagogue and the first Asian-American person to be ordained as cantor or rabbi in North America, discuss Caste, the legacy of the Holocaust, and what lies under the surface of American life today.
Watch the program below.
This program is made possible by the Marcia Horowitz Education Fund for Cross-Cultural Awareness.
Recording transcript for Isabel Wilkerson and Rabbi Angela Buchdahl on “Caste”
This program’s original recording transcript is below. This transcription was created automatically during a live program so may contain inaccurate transcriptions of some words.
Ari Goldstein: i'm Ari Goldstein Senior Public programs producer at the Museum of Jewish heritage, a living memorial to the Holocaust and it's an honor to welcome you to this evenings conversation with Isabel wilkerson rabbi Angela warnecke booked all.
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Ari Goldstein: We were founded 25 years ago as new york's Holocaust Museum.
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Ari Goldstein: And that identity comes with the sacred responsibility to commemorate those who are lost honor those who survived and teach future generations about this dark chapter of history.
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Ari Goldstein: But that identity also requires us to have honest conversations about the similarities differences in relationships between the Holocaust and other collective traumas.
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Ari Goldstein: conversations that are sometimes challenging but are essential to upholding the moral responsibility that we carry as keepers of this history.
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Ari Goldstein: that's why we're so grateful to be bringing together is about wilkerson and Robert bucked off tonight's conversation.
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Ari Goldstein: to women who have made in Dallas indelible contributions to public discourse on the subject.
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Ari Goldstein: we're especially grateful to Richard Cohen, and the Marshal Horowitz education fund for cross cultural awareness, for making this coming together possible before is about and Robert bucks i'll begin the conversation, let me introduce them both.
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Ari Goldstein: Is an elbow grease in winner of the pulitzer prize and the national humanities metal is the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestsellers the warmth of other sons and cast the origins or discontents.
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Ari Goldstein: Real Christians work in the words of the American prospect magazine is the missing puzzle piece of our country's history.
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Ari Goldstein: worth of other sons won the national book critics circle award among other honors and was named to more than 30 best of the year.
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Ari Goldstein: Including times the Los Angeles Times, the new yorker and the Washington Post Time Magazine named it one of the 10 best nonfiction books of the decade.
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Ari Goldstein: New York Times magazine named warmth to its list of the best nonfiction books of all time.
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Ari Goldstein: Her new book cast the origins of our discontents was published in August 2022 critical acclaim and became a number one New York Times bestseller.
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Ari Goldstein: Times critic dwight garner called it an instant American classic and almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century, thus far.
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Ari Goldstein: oprah winfrey chose cast for her 2020 summer fall book club and declare that the most important book she had ever selected, you can order your copy at the link in the zoom chat.
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Ari Goldstein: wilkerson won the pulitzer prize for a deeply humane narrative writing while serving the Chicago bureau chief at the New York Times in 1994.
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Ari Goldstein: begin here, the first black woman in American journalism to win a pulitzer prize and the first African American to win for individual reporting.
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Ari Goldstein: In 2016 President Barack Obama awarded will increase in the national humanities metal for championing the story is about unsung history as the historian Jill lapore observed in the new yorker wilkerson urges isn't argument at all it's compassion hush and listen.
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Ari Goldstein: And conversation wilkerson has grabbed Angela warnecke buck doll was the senior Rabbi of New York central synagogue.
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Ari Goldstein: The first woman to lead the congregation and it's 180 year history and the first Asian American to be ordained rabbi or cantor in North America.
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Ari Goldstein: she's been nationally recognized for innovations and leading worship and, recently, for a servant she delivered on Yom Kippur war in 2020 called rethinking race in the Jewish community.
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Ari Goldstein: which some of you in the audience may have seen news because called her one of america's 50 most influential rabbis that further ado, please join me in welcoming Isabel wilkerson Robin Angela Warner booked all for conversation about cast.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Thank you so much for this invitation i'm beyond excited and thrilled to have this conversation with you as well, and I have been a fan, since, for a long time, but I just want to begin by saying that i'm.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: In light of the racial tensions that kind of exploded in this last spring I knew pretty early on that I wanted to speak about race at the high holidays.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: This last fall he felt like there was no more important reckoning, we needed to have as a nation and I started reading a lot of books and there were many very important and good books out there, but when the New York Times review came out in August.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And literally i've never seen a book review that begins with an apology for how over the top, good the review is going to be with the number of superlatives that are going to come out but I bought it immediately.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: On my kindle and started reading and I felt like I was underlining every other sentence and.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Not only did I quote you in the sermon that I ended up giving in the fall, but really your book shaped my entire paradigm for the way I thought about how we talk.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: About I don't even want to call it, race, because it's not about races beyond that about the hierarchy of human value which you.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: speak about so eloquently and powerfully and, and so I I remember, as I was reading I was thinking myself Oh, I have so many questions i'd love to ask her and I.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: cannot thank the Museum of Jewish heritage enough for giving me this opportunity to actually do it to do it in the presence of i'm looking through the list of participants, here we have you know 2000 people joining right now and more on their more on their way, which is remarkable.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: That I just feel so grateful that we can all witness this together with you and have this important conversation and.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: i'm going to apologize for speaking separate lives because I know i'm gonna embarrass you, but I truly believe that we are in the presence of a modern day prophet.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Your words come from a place of love and many books about this topic come from a place of censure.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: come from a place of not giving actually humanity, a lot of credit and there's something about the way that you could be critiquing from the place of actually a deep sense of hopefulness for what we can be as as a.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: As a world and as human beings to each other, and I think part of the reason that it it just had the impact it had on me and on so many others, is.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: you write, with all the background of an academic, but you write like a journalist who actually wants to uncover someone's story and.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: You talk about major caste systems around the world and yet you also gave us little pieces of your own personal experience woven throughout the story.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: That remind us, this is not just a theoretical exercise for you, that the ramifications of this are very deep so without further ado, I guess, one of the first.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: questions, I want to ask you is is something that I noticed about the words you use in Judaism, we talked about the fact that.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: When God wanted to create the world God just spoke, let there be light and there was, like the word in Hebrew for word Divorce is the same word as a thing, meaning words actually create tangible.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: things in the world, I noticed and you mentioned in the cast that in your first book, which was 600 page book about the Jim crow South you never once use the word racism.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And hearing cast you actually explored deeply the experience of Jews and Nazi Germany and I checked my kindle you do not once use the word anti semitism.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And so i'm just curious about the fact that you chose the word cast if you could help us understand what you mean by that in distinction to perhaps race.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And why you were so careful because that's I know not unintentional what is the world, you are trying to create With these words, and this new word you're helping us understand.
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Isabel Wilkerson: As Thank you so much, I am just thrilled and honored delighted and humbled to be here with you, I you know your sermon went viral, as you well know.
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Isabel Wilkerson: to such a degree came it came to my attention.
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Isabel Wilkerson: I posted it on on instagram aware of the followers that I have the book has of many, many different backgrounds were so hard and and inspired by your words, and so I am so you know thrilled to be here with you.
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Isabel Wilkerson: To talk about this to transcend these false barriers, you know which which your life is embodied your work is embodied so I I just am so thrilled to be here with you this idea of language.
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Isabel Wilkerson: begins to you know it works on the subconscious and I wanted to be able to break free of the patterns on the programming that we as Americans and humans in general.
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Isabel Wilkerson: have absorbed without even realizing it and languages have is a big part of that.
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Isabel Wilkerson: We have come to take as sort of the laws of nature, certain kinds of language, the idea of race is something that we've come to see as some.
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Isabel Wilkerson: You know, rigid truism, when in fact it is a creation of human beings modern day concept of race, only goes back for about four or 500 years going back to the time of European expansionism in which they.
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Isabel Wilkerson: You know, came upon came into contact with people who are different than themselves and and then created this language to define and to.
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Isabel Wilkerson: to delineate who was whom and, of course, with the creation of a new world.
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Isabel Wilkerson: which was built upon first the decimation of the numbers of indigenous people here and then and the importing of people from Africa to build this country out of wilderness, and to do so, you know as enslaved people and that's creating a bottom wrong, you know.
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Isabel Wilkerson: A cast you might say, a group of people who were assigned to the very bottom.
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Isabel Wilkerson: Where everything they couldn't could not do is based upon what they look like, and the same for those to establish themselves at the top of this emerging hierarchy that we have inherited to this day.
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Isabel Wilkerson: And so you know it, you know my definition of cast is it's an artificial arbitrary graded ranking of human value in a society that determines one standing benefit of the doubt access to resources or the lack of access to resources.
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Isabel Wilkerson: assumptions of competence intelligence worthiness and can be literally a matter of life and death.
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Isabel Wilkerson: And so I wanted to be able to capture somehow in that first book the warm for the sun's.
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Isabel Wilkerson: Something that went beyond what is the visible manifestation of the difference that had been encoded into something of a ranking I wanted to be able to go beneath that and to say, this has been.
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Isabel Wilkerson: The Jim crow caste system ultimate the Jim crow world was ultimately.
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Isabel Wilkerson: A hierarchy which was carefully and you know legally culturally and forced to keep people in a fixed place to maintain that original originating hierarchy.
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Isabel Wilkerson: And then, anyone who would enter into that system and then not fit one of those Poles had to then try to figure out where they fit in and there was this in some ways, putting people in columns and.
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Isabel Wilkerson: Then places and you were not to cross over, and so one of the examples of that is it was actually against the law for a black person in a white person to merely play checkers again in Birmingham.
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Isabel Wilkerson: The very word of God was segregated in the Jim crow south, and that was that in cortland South the South.
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Isabel Wilkerson: If you know that there was a black Bible and an altogether separate might Bible to swear to tell the truth on and court.
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Isabel Wilkerson: The same sacred object, could not be touched by hands of different races and that went beyond the the generalized sense about not liking someone or prejudice the ways that people might absorb might assume or.
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Isabel Wilkerson: interpret what we think of when we think of racism, there was something primordial and existential about the need to maintain the fixed ranking this idea of the dominant group potentially being.
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Isabel Wilkerson: polluted by those who have been.
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Isabel Wilkerson: deemed neat them, in other words the rap protecting once purity The very word of God being segregated not being able to be touched by hands of different races, there was something underneath that.
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Isabel Wilkerson: that went beyond the creation, the creation of what we call race that does not mean that race racism doesn't is not real it just means that there's something underneath that and that.
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Isabel Wilkerson: allows us to see the points of intersection within our society and those in other societies across time across geography that.
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Isabel Wilkerson: That that have or have used some type of hierarchy to keep people in the fixed place, often in an Arc and occupational restriction.
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Isabel Wilkerson: restrictions in terms of who can marry whom restrictions as a who can be in the same presence of someone else.
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Isabel Wilkerson: and also the tremendous amount of violence that often attends the main the enforcement of those arbitrary lines of of hierarchy, and so this is what I wanted to bring in that language to help us to see beyond what we think we see when we look at what we've inherited as a society.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: it's really powerful in it, and one of the things that that word cast helps us understand is the way that there is a real system that's in place here that happens and.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: it's not just happening in America around race, I think, for most of us, including me when I think of a caste system, I.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: immediately think of India, which has, as you say, the oldest caste system and we don't think of.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: What we've done with race here in America as a caste system, but you show that not only and you kind of primarily focus on three major caste systems in India.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: The treatment of African Americans in America but also Jews in Nazi Germany.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And in what you show which was fascinating is that even across time and geography, there are certain pillars of caste systems that are exactly the same.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And the first one is a rabbi that offended me and bothered me the most and you just touched on it in your last answer is.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: The idea that this is all divinely ordained somehow it's bigger and it's bigger than us God wanted it to be this way and I have to tell you that when I hear that, as a rabbi I think to myself, this is perhaps the most.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: egregious violation of one of the 10 commandments which says don't take god's name in vain, some people think that's about saying I.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: You can't say I swear to God that's not what it's about it's about actually using God to justify a caste system like this, so, can you tell us what you mean an example of like how divine ordination or that it's somehow god's will, but some people should be ranked higher than others.
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Isabel Wilkerson: yeah well in in, of course, in India that thousands of years old system that is based, of course, in in.
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Isabel Wilkerson: Vedic of belief systems, but also the laws of mine into those those the sacred sacred texts that laid out the originating four main foreigners in that system it's gone through many adjustments over time with colonization British colonization but essentially That was the originating.
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Isabel Wilkerson: framework for that one in our country, because a book this book is primarily about our country, and you know not enough people may be aware of of what was known very well known in the mid 20th century, which was this idea of the curse of ham, the idea that Noah.
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Isabel Wilkerson: happened to be resting in his 10th and his son Pam happened to walk into the tent and to see his father on clothes and.
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Isabel Wilkerson: The two other brothers sham sham and Jacob happen to have happen to have walked backwards of it, so as to not see their father on clothes they covered him up and.
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Isabel Wilkerson: And he he ended up when he awakened from from this, he then cursed ham, for having seen him in that way, and he cursed not ham, specifically, I mean he didn't curse can himself, but he actually did something presumably more.
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Isabel Wilkerson: You know more, encompassing according to those who have interpreted this way is that he cursed Kanan his son and going down through generations and so people assume people made the assumption.
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Isabel Wilkerson: centuries let you know millennia later and their interpretation of that scripture they interpreted that to mean that.
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Isabel Wilkerson: That people who were darker were condemned and cursed by ham, this is again their interpretation to be enslaved by the descendants of the other two brothers and that was what many of the.
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Isabel Wilkerson: The people who who were the colonizers and the enslavers in our country.
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Isabel Wilkerson: cited as they were enslaved Africans in this country, and they continue them in the references or, as you know, from the book their REP the references.
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Isabel Wilkerson: went well into the time just leading up to the confederacy so they were in they were drawing upon this as they were defending what what was ultimately the enslavement of so many people.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Yes, when a corruption, and this is why religion can get a bad name when people use the Bible to justify these kinds of things.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: I think you know thinking.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: I think about the fact that you give these three primary examples and and weave together the ways that they influence each other in certain ways and.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: i'm you know, aware of the fact that this event is sponsored by the Museum of Jewish heritage, which is the primary New York museum on the experience of the Holocaust.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And here we talk a lot about how we were marginalized and systematically dehumanized and stigmatized.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And i've had a lot of Holocaust education in my lifetime, especially as a rabbi I I am.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: embarrassed to say that I until I read your book, I did not fully understand the ways that actually that entire system.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: learned from the legal caste system that we had set up here in America and I, and I think a lot of others who read that have also been surprised, can you tell us a little bit about the ways that Nazi Germany devise its own methods by studying what we were doing here in America.
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Isabel Wilkerson: Well, I have to say that I mean it's just gut wrenching and stunning and shocking to discover, even now, when I think about it, and that is that that in the years leading up to the Third Reich.
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Isabel Wilkerson: You know Nazis actually were well, I should say that the German you genesis particular starting with them, they were actually in dialogue with American new genesis.
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Isabel Wilkerson: In the years leading up to the third ride, they were consulting with them, they were reading their works, they were engaging with them and turning to them, so the German eugenicist returning to American new genesis two as they were.
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Isabel Wilkerson: contemplating and building upon racist ideology when it then, then it turned out that American you genesis were writing books that were huge bestsellers.
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Isabel Wilkerson: In Germany, so much so that the Nazis were the Nazis actually incorporated the books, written by American you genesis into the Nazi curriculum for their school children that that's how interconnected.
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Isabel Wilkerson: These two cultures were, and you know, of course, the Nazis needed no one, no one to teach them how to hate, they did not have to turn the United States, so I had a hate, but what they did was they sent.
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Isabel Wilkerson: They sent researchers to the United States to study how Americans had managed to.
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Isabel Wilkerson: create a legal framework for the subjugation of African Americans and the exclusion of indigenous people in this country they wanted to they studied.
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Isabel Wilkerson: The laws that were that were in place to control efforts as well to define who could be what in the society they were fascinated the Nazis were fascinated by the American.
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Isabel Wilkerson: tendency to to define race, on the basis of fractions of perceived blood or perceived ancestry fascinated by that and try to understand how how might they then define what was a race.
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Isabel Wilkerson: In Germany, they also were they studied very closely what was then known as anti miscegenation laws, in other words the laws that controlled who could marry whom.
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Isabel Wilkerson: And they and they had to study the various states, because each State has a different had different rules and laws and they had to study them and we should also remember that in our country.
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Isabel Wilkerson: The majority of the other states in the United States of America, not just in the Jim crow south, but the majority of the states at some point or another had.
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Isabel Wilkerson: defined clearly defined laws that for Bade.
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Isabel Wilkerson: marriage between people of different races that's it, we should also remember that this lasted for far longer than it has not it only was overturned by the Supreme Court in the year 2000 and in the year 1967 rather.
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Isabel Wilkerson: In 1967 the laws were overturned, but it wasn't until the year 2000 that the state of Alabama overturned its anti miscegenation law and when it had had that that vote, it turned out that 40% of the voters in Alabama voted to keep the the antenna session on place so.
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Isabel Wilkerson: For a lot of people.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: If i'm I can't help but think about the fact that my parents who are in were interracially married were married in 1968 only a year after it was.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Legal in America around the around the country and it's it's stunning to me to think that that can be a crime little, and I know that Germany felt the same way.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And when Germany adopted these anti miscegenation laws, I think one of the things it was harder in Germany is intermarriage with Jews, at that point.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: was like I think over 60% it was a huge part and it's harder to easier to distinguish people who are black and white, who might be in couples harder sometimes to distinguish Jews and Germans.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And so, they also borrow these fractional identities of taking you know one Jewish grandparent and designing that's what it is and.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: I think about I think about this and how dangerous this idea of sort of this immutable hereditary identity becomes who you are and where you stand in the world and yet.
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Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And yet I found that many people in the Jewish community have a very hard time letting go of the idea of Jews as a race.
00:23:54.960 --> 00:24:09.390
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And this is, in part, what I talked about in my sermon interestingly, when I gave my sermon I had several people and one of the things I said straight up was that it's time to debunk the myth that Jews are a race, we are a people hood but we're not a race.
00:24:10.410 --> 00:24:23.850
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Several people came up to me or email me after from the Jewish community and said rabbi you see we're not a race, but I took a DNA test and i'm 99% ashkenazi Jewish so don't tell me it's not a race.
00:24:24.990 --> 00:24:31.140
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And so, now there are a couple things going on there i'm proud and happy that they're very proud to be Jewish.
00:24:32.160 --> 00:24:38.010
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: But but it's a very Eurocentric perspective, to begin with, because obviously there are many different kinds of.
00:24:38.730 --> 00:24:47.040
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: ancestors within Judaism, that are not just ashkenazi but you could hail from Ethiopia and and be a Jew for 2000 years you could hail from.
00:24:47.370 --> 00:24:53.130
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Iran or Iraq and have different heredity and and be one in one of the oldest Jewish communities possible.
00:24:53.490 --> 00:25:00.630
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: But the secondary thing I think people don't understand is that even those DNA test that kit there's no Jewish gene there's no black gene.
00:25:00.870 --> 00:25:18.150
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: there's just a way that you can identify that someone comes from a particular region where other people shared you know similar phenotypes but why do you think the Community, I have my own thoughts on this, but i'm curious, why do you think people care as much because.
00:25:19.320 --> 00:25:24.570
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: They take those tests and and it matters to them deeply i'll share one other story which is that.
00:25:24.990 --> 00:25:27.960
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: It happens that the founder of 23 and me and widget ski.
00:25:28.140 --> 00:25:29.550
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: was my little sub in college.
00:25:29.730 --> 00:25:34.770
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: She got a hold of my sermon and called me afterward and she said, you know.
00:25:35.340 --> 00:25:46.860
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: it's amazing how people feel when they find out that there are 3% Japanese suddenly they feel a deep connection they'll go visit she talked about a woman who was adopted and found out that she was actually shared ancestry of.
00:25:47.430 --> 00:25:53.550
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: In with Eskimos and she left her life in New York and went and moved to a Community with with.
00:25:54.300 --> 00:26:10.740
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: in Alaska and I, and I thought to myself, what is the fiction here and what is the realness and why do people care and want to so much feel connected to some immutable identity that they feel like race, even when they know it's dangerous.
00:26:11.490 --> 00:26:21.750
Isabel Wilkerson: I believe, generally speaking, of course, human beings are social social species, and so we want always to have this feeling of belonging, I think that's perfectly.
00:26:22.500 --> 00:26:30.780
Isabel Wilkerson: You know, healthy beautiful and fact to have a sense of belonging, but we have inherited a structure of the not have an IV, are making.
00:26:31.290 --> 00:26:43.260
Isabel Wilkerson: in which there are rankings and there's a hierarchy, that is, that you know comes to us through some really difficult history, having to do with colonization having to do with the slave man having to do.
00:26:43.830 --> 00:26:50.070
Isabel Wilkerson: With a range of conquest and it's hard, I think, for us as humans to separate out.
00:26:50.910 --> 00:26:58.860
Isabel Wilkerson: That which we might you know hold dear in neutral circumstances and that which we've inherited we are products of the society.
00:26:59.400 --> 00:27:08.760
Isabel Wilkerson: That we have inherited and you've meant you made mention I know of how over time groups can begin to absorb.
00:27:09.030 --> 00:27:25.950
Isabel Wilkerson: The definition of those who had conquered or had been even the enemies of those people who are now having to live with those that definition and I think that that can grow out of the sense that I want to say that you know absorbing the message of one's presumed.
00:27:27.120 --> 00:27:34.320
Isabel Wilkerson: inferiority or place in the hierarchy, it can be seen as a survival mechanism of those who've been dehumanized.
00:27:34.830 --> 00:27:43.230
Isabel Wilkerson: it's a way of absorbing that which is necessary in order to survive in the society that we're in and so these this idea of self definition.
00:27:44.070 --> 00:27:50.340
Isabel Wilkerson: Do we really have the chance to define ourselves if we have absorbed messaging if we have already been defined upon birth.
00:27:51.120 --> 00:27:59.400
Isabel Wilkerson: into a pre existing framework where we don't we're not given the chance to really be who we might otherwise choose to be.
00:27:59.670 --> 00:28:09.930
Isabel Wilkerson: And so I think that it's I think this is a fraud area, but I also think that it's an opportunity to be able to transcend these false divisions, to be able to look past that and to define for ourselves.
00:28:10.650 --> 00:28:27.420
Isabel Wilkerson: I love your language of people who have I love that I mean because that that allows us to be allows it to be encompassing of all kinds of people, I want to say a little bit about in dog me, and you know how in dog me has intruded upon.
00:28:28.110 --> 00:28:39.840
Isabel Wilkerson: The ways that we see ourselves in dog me is the is the as a pillar in which it's determines that it's a part of hallmark of every caste system.
00:28:40.620 --> 00:28:48.210
Isabel Wilkerson: and very carefully enforced, I might say, and that is the idea that people should only marry within their own group, which is what we were mentioning about.
00:28:48.540 --> 00:28:55.080
Isabel Wilkerson: Any miscegenation laws, but one of the after effects of that one of one of the enduring legacies of that is that.
00:28:55.290 --> 00:29:06.240
Isabel Wilkerson: What it's done is that it cure rates what a population actually looks like because it determines who can be with whom, who can procreate with whom legally and it what it does, is it creates.
00:29:07.080 --> 00:29:19.920
Isabel Wilkerson: This it actually limits the chance for empathy and among of between groups, because it says to an individual looking at someone else looks different from them means that this is someone I don't have to think about it all this is someone who.
00:29:20.490 --> 00:29:25.230
Isabel Wilkerson: Is not has no close family connection to me this is someone that I can I can actually.
00:29:25.980 --> 00:29:33.960
Isabel Wilkerson: dismiss from all far, because this is not a person from my group, and what it does, is it also it's.
00:29:34.380 --> 00:29:41.370
Isabel Wilkerson: free but it's a for purpose our chance to have shared empathy a sense of shared connection a sense of shared destiny.
00:29:41.610 --> 00:29:51.240
Isabel Wilkerson: And it gives people less of a stake in the well being of their fellow citizens, and that is one of the reasons I think that we see such disconnect in our country that.
00:29:51.690 --> 00:29:58.830
Isabel Wilkerson: has led to these the sense that we have nothing that we need to do for someone else.
00:29:59.700 --> 00:30:10.020
Isabel Wilkerson: In fact, you have less of a connection, because you feel that this person is not only perhaps different from us different from you or even beneath.
00:30:10.590 --> 00:30:19.500
Isabel Wilkerson: You if you're told this from whichever group you're in but also perhaps even an enemy of your people and and you can see that this is not what builds.
00:30:20.160 --> 00:30:30.690
Isabel Wilkerson: generosity of spirit within a society in fact it endangers a possibility of having generosity of spirit and that's one of the reasons why our country as great as it is and as wealthy, as it is.
00:30:30.990 --> 00:30:44.190
Isabel Wilkerson: Is is alone in among our you know fellow wealthy nations in the withholding of of general public services for its people, we are alone.
00:30:44.670 --> 00:30:57.690
Isabel Wilkerson: You know, compared to our other wealthy nations when it comes to caring for the health, you know health care for for all of our citizens, we don't realize how very how withholding and, in fact.
00:30:58.170 --> 00:31:07.470
Isabel Wilkerson: stingy we can be as a society but part of that is because we have been raised we've inherited these divisions in which we have been told that we have no.
00:31:08.040 --> 00:31:23.430
Isabel Wilkerson: No natural or you know connection to those who we've been told her different from myself and also when it comes to the then the need to protect oneself from those that are viewing viewed as other we, as a country have.
00:31:23.850 --> 00:31:31.530
Isabel Wilkerson: A higher percentage of gun ownership than any of our Member of similar nations, in fact, the majority of guns owned by.
00:31:32.070 --> 00:31:41.340
Isabel Wilkerson: individuals in the world, the majority are owned by Americans, now that is this a breathtaking out of one of many of the breathtaking.
00:31:42.000 --> 00:31:49.470
Isabel Wilkerson: manifestations of the deep deep divisions that we've inherited that grow from these these pillars of cast that were.
00:31:49.980 --> 00:32:06.720
Isabel Wilkerson: created to divide us, on the basis of these perceived by perceived differences that were given meaning, even though this is all these are neutral characteristics that should be have no meaning, other than just the beauty of the of the human manifestation.
00:32:08.220 --> 00:32:14.550
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Where you're touching on something that's actually a real sensitivity in the Jewish community and dogma me because I think for.
00:32:16.200 --> 00:32:29.430
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: You know until basically very recent decades there was such a stigma of Jews outside of the Jewish community interfaith marriage was seen as the the end of Jewish continuity and I think that.
00:32:30.780 --> 00:32:37.770
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: I was the beneficiary of the just the beginning of the change of the mindset of sort of welcoming families that might have had interfaith.
00:32:38.790 --> 00:32:49.200
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: couples, but I know it's been a challenge and I guess, one of the challenges, and I say this is a rabbi who cares about Jewish continuity also is that I think that one of the reasons we talked about it, we can justify it not as.
00:32:49.770 --> 00:33:05.520
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Being in somehow about reinforcing the cast, but about reinforcing a kind of the the positive aspects of tribalism of shared values of continuing a tradition, I mean, I think that that's one of the challenges like when you do have the diversity.
00:33:07.110 --> 00:33:15.540
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: I mean, I guess, some people have sort of said that America is a failed experiment of diversity and I guess, I asked you do you think we failed like are we, is the only.
00:33:15.930 --> 00:33:26.880
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: answer that we all just mirror each other and get to know each other, I are there other ways that we maintain our our individuality and can somehow still be in relationship with in a deep way.
00:33:27.750 --> 00:33:32.820
Isabel Wilkerson: that's a really good question I want to be sure that I say that there's a difference between.
00:33:33.990 --> 00:33:39.030
Isabel Wilkerson: Choosing as a group that has been under siege to protect oneself.
00:33:39.450 --> 00:33:47.040
Isabel Wilkerson: That is a completely different thing from state from State law that prohibits everyone for marrying.
00:33:47.310 --> 00:33:59.970
Isabel Wilkerson: Certain other people, and that that is a compliance event is totally and completely different, these were state laws that were in place that forbade people from being able to act upon their choice to have.
00:34:00.330 --> 00:34:13.800
Isabel Wilkerson: Someone to love and then they also must from you know remind everyone carry tremendous penalties, particularly for those at the end at the you know assigned a very bottom of the caste system, you know, an African American.
00:34:14.400 --> 00:34:27.000
Isabel Wilkerson: Man, in particular, they were with many of them, many of them lost their lives, not for having married across racial lines, I was against the law, but for even the appearance of.
00:34:27.630 --> 00:34:32.100
Isabel Wilkerson: presumed interest in someone from the dominant cast.
00:34:32.790 --> 00:34:37.380
Isabel Wilkerson: From who, for whom he would be forbidden to have any interaction with.
00:34:37.680 --> 00:34:40.920
Isabel Wilkerson: At all many of the lynchings that occurred in the United States occurred.
00:34:41.130 --> 00:34:51.510
Isabel Wilkerson: For some presumed breach of that pillar of cast, and so I want to make it really clear that there's a complete difference between State law that forbids you know human beings from making the choice.
00:34:51.750 --> 00:35:07.020
Isabel Wilkerson: And the the decisions that are made by people who want to protect, you know as particularly people who have who have been the focus of of discrimination to protect their families that's that i've you that is totally different.
00:35:07.380 --> 00:35:13.500
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: huh Oh, thank you um, so I think you've made it really clear case and I think.
00:35:14.130 --> 00:35:24.270
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Others have also made this case that race is a construct and a fiction and yet racism is a fact of life and I guess, one of the questions is how do you.
00:35:24.660 --> 00:35:34.890
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: approach talking about racism and fighting racism without in some ways, reinforcing these lines What I mean is like you know i'd like to get rid of all the boxes, we don't check.
00:35:34.890 --> 00:35:36.960
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: The box anymore, but how do you.
00:35:38.430 --> 00:35:49.410
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: How do you address issues through things like affirmative action or or the kind of historic oppression that in some ways, still making definitions along these lines.
00:35:49.950 --> 00:35:56.070
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And I guess i'll just ask a specific question, which is i've been thinking about recently there's kind of a trend in anti racism.
00:35:56.460 --> 00:36:03.810
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Education right now to separate out children and students by their affinity groups, which is, in other words, racial groupings.
00:36:04.140 --> 00:36:09.390
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And to separate them out, which I think it only just reinforces the sense that they are different by race and.
00:36:09.810 --> 00:36:21.300
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Making biracial children have to choose which group they're in and all these kind of complications So how do we talk about real racism and address real racism without in some ways, reinforcing false race.
00:36:22.020 --> 00:36:32.400
Isabel Wilkerson: You know we're in a conundrum because leg raises the language that we've inherited race and racism is a language and we've we've inherited and we've been trained to see the world in that way we've been trained to.
00:36:32.940 --> 00:36:43.830
Isabel Wilkerson: make assumptions on the basis of what we should I should say that, in a caste system any number of metrics could be used to divide and to rank people and in our society.
00:36:44.520 --> 00:36:59.640
Isabel Wilkerson: This was the metric that was used the you know what people look like becomes the determining determining metric for how a person should be seen defined and ultimately in treated in our society and.
00:37:00.180 --> 00:37:14.760
Isabel Wilkerson: You know I am in favor of the idea of being able to look at the do the work of understanding, a person's history as opposed to assumptions about them on the basis of what they look like.
00:37:15.000 --> 00:37:28.110
Isabel Wilkerson: That requires us to engage with people at a deeper level than to make the assumptions that can actually be dangerous, can be a matter of life and death for people and it, you know it requires us to find a way to to.
00:37:28.560 --> 00:37:33.390
Isabel Wilkerson: To go deeper to transcend to permeate these divisions and to recognize that.
00:37:34.110 --> 00:37:40.860
Isabel Wilkerson: We don't know a person just because we look at look at them and make assumptions because of what we've been told we don't know.
00:37:41.430 --> 00:37:47.580
Isabel Wilkerson: That the the beauty and the gifts and the strengths and the challenges that an individual may have been through.
00:37:48.150 --> 00:37:55.860
Isabel Wilkerson: You know I talked about this idea of radical empathy because empathy is that which allows us or actually I would hope inspires us.
00:37:56.640 --> 00:38:07.410
Isabel Wilkerson: To to not make assumptions about someone else or assume that were we in that position that we've never been in and never will be, that this is how we think we would ask that we want their situation.
00:38:07.680 --> 00:38:14.490
Isabel Wilkerson: But instead to be able to to be willing to do the work of getting to know our fellow human beings to hear their stories.
00:38:14.790 --> 00:38:22.020
Isabel Wilkerson: And to know that what they look like has been given a meaning that would be neutral if we had not been given that you know.
00:38:22.680 --> 00:38:34.560
Isabel Wilkerson: The received assumptions that we, the programming that we have and it gets in the way of these potentially beautiful connections that people might have because we've been told again and me, the result of that is that.
00:38:34.980 --> 00:38:40.830
Isabel Wilkerson: In our country, it is what curated our population, and so we don't even have to think about an entire group.
00:38:41.580 --> 00:38:46.350
Isabel Wilkerson: that's what we're trying to do, and this, you know, the idea of looking at the world beyond.
00:38:46.620 --> 00:38:54.480
Isabel Wilkerson: Beyond race beyond cast beyond these divisions means that we can open our minds open our hearts open our spirits and souls.
00:38:54.780 --> 00:39:03.180
Isabel Wilkerson: To the potential of the beauty of others that we've been told us so different from myself, but that we if we talk long enough will find that they're not that different at all.
00:39:04.500 --> 00:39:07.650
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: That sounds like a prayer to me is about that's beautiful.
00:39:09.420 --> 00:39:24.360
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: You know, when I think about you know how we address historic oppression and in our country, our our original stain of slavery and want to bring up kind of a topic that is controversial in many circles, which is about reparations and.
00:39:25.440 --> 00:39:33.690
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: You know the Bible has a very famous line about about reparations essentially, which is an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth a life for a life.
00:39:34.140 --> 00:39:45.270
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And even from the very first commentaries that people made on this line rabbis wanted to make it very clear we're not talking about this literally you don't actually take a life for a life or an eye for an eye.
00:39:45.690 --> 00:39:48.510
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: But it's about reparations like how we in some way.
00:39:50.400 --> 00:39:56.460
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: We can never replace an eye or a life, but we can in some way show accountability and.
00:39:57.030 --> 00:40:08.610
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: take responsibility and bring some measure of justice through reparations and and, of course, in the Jewish community after the Holocaust reparations from the German Government.
00:40:09.330 --> 00:40:21.510
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Not only helped individual survivor sort of pick up the broken pieces of their lives and build families and start over again, but but enormous reparations to the young state of Israel help this new nation.
00:40:22.320 --> 00:40:34.020
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: You know, build a refuge for Jews from all over, and so we, and I think we, we know that some reparations are still are and reparations and.
00:40:34.710 --> 00:40:45.570
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: You know, bringing back art and all those that happening 70 years later, so it doesn't have to happen, right after the fact, and yet it's still interesting to me how controversial this conversation is around.
00:40:46.320 --> 00:41:01.230
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Slavery so i'd love to ask about your own view on reparations in this country, and does it matter how much is actually given is it is it mostly symbolic, or does it matter that we have some tangible amount that really can change a person's circumstance.
00:41:02.040 --> 00:41:11.550
Isabel Wilkerson: yeah Well, first of all i'd like to say that I again getting back to the language is to focus on the first two syllables of reparation meaning the point of it is to repair.
00:41:11.850 --> 00:41:18.060
Isabel Wilkerson: damage that has already been done, and if we're thinking about it as a verb as opposed to a single.
00:41:18.540 --> 00:41:38.010
Isabel Wilkerson: Say bestow will have something, then that means that it really my my hope would be that it would be more holistic than the than only the you know the bestowing of an amount which i'm not in a position to determine what that should be there many, many people who study that.
00:41:39.180 --> 00:41:45.390
Isabel Wilkerson: But it should be more than just that, because this is about repairing not just.
00:41:45.750 --> 00:41:58.590
Isabel Wilkerson: That which was taken from people resources of that were taken from people over the course of 246 years of enslavement, so if you think about how long that was that was 12 generations and enslavement slavery went on for so long.
00:41:59.400 --> 00:42:11.040
Isabel Wilkerson: That it won't be until next year that 2022 that the United States will have been a free and independent nation for as long as slavery lasted on this soil that's how long it lasted.
00:42:11.340 --> 00:42:20.670
Isabel Wilkerson: Another way to think about the slavery lasted for so long that no adult alive today will be alive at the point at which African Americans will have been free.
00:42:20.910 --> 00:42:37.500
Isabel Wilkerson: For as long as African Americans were enslaved so that that won't happen until the year 2111 that's how long it will take before there will be parity between just enslavement and freedom that does not include the 100 years of Jim crow apartheid.
00:42:38.100 --> 00:42:49.050
Isabel Wilkerson: Language that people use to apply to Jim crow but actually Jim crow preceded apartheid so apartheid is the language that we use to think of the most extreme form of segregation, but actually.
00:42:49.740 --> 00:42:52.290
Isabel Wilkerson: The United States preceded South Africa on that one too.
00:42:53.070 --> 00:43:01.620
Isabel Wilkerson: And so, this went on for so long, and this is not just a sad dark chapter in our country's history, it was what the country was for longer than it was not.
00:43:01.920 --> 00:43:13.650
Isabel Wilkerson: And so, part of reparations, from my perspective, of course, there is the fact that African Americans were excluded from you know from the body politic and from this.
00:43:14.280 --> 00:43:22.830
Isabel Wilkerson: Country, essentially, except for as workers working for the right to live another day essentially is what enslavement was.
00:43:23.580 --> 00:43:33.240
Isabel Wilkerson: For 246 years 12 generations, how many greats you have to add to the word grandparent to begin to imagine how long that was again it was inherited enslavement.
00:43:33.570 --> 00:43:41.250
Isabel Wilkerson: And so, and then, then the 100 years beyond that, where people are African Americans were excluded from the economy excluded from.
00:43:41.820 --> 00:43:51.510
Isabel Wilkerson: from being able to get a government back mortgage, for example, excluded from being able then to participate in the American dream excluded in terms of the type of occupations that they could hold.
00:43:52.170 --> 00:44:05.310
Isabel Wilkerson: Excluded from social security, because the work that African Americans were more likely to do we're not covered conveniently by social security so African Americans for longer than for much, much longer than it has not been the case.
00:44:05.820 --> 00:44:10.470
Isabel Wilkerson: were excluded from from participation in the economy and thus.
00:44:10.920 --> 00:44:22.080
Isabel Wilkerson: It is said that it will be enough, it would be another 228 years at this pace before African Americans would reach parity with their white counterparts, that is, the extent of the damage that has been done.
00:44:22.560 --> 00:44:33.870
Isabel Wilkerson: To an entire group of people in this country, and so I I say that if the skeptics knew the true history of our country they themselves will be calling for reparations.
00:44:35.640 --> 00:44:41.640
Isabel Wilkerson: And so I feel that, along with with whatever is the ultimate.
00:44:43.020 --> 00:44:47.730
Isabel Wilkerson: decision in this country, I would absolutely call for.
00:44:48.510 --> 00:45:01.350
Isabel Wilkerson: For a change in our history and how history is taught in our country, because not only were wages and participation in the economy, taken stolen from African Americans on you know through.
00:45:01.710 --> 00:45:11.790
Isabel Wilkerson: The 1960s, not not end, you know formally until the civil rights legislation, the 1960s, but you could say that that the history itself of the people was stolen.
00:45:12.120 --> 00:45:19.380
Isabel Wilkerson: That you know most Americans don't know our true history don't know the country's history history because history is not taught.
00:45:19.680 --> 00:45:29.220
Isabel Wilkerson: As to what actually truly happened in our country, and I can say this for a fact, because when people read the warmth of the sun, they read that one first and and now cast people are saying.
00:45:30.360 --> 00:45:41.940
Isabel Wilkerson: They say to me, I had no idea I had no idea this happened in this country, I had no idea this happened within the lifespan of many P, the whole idea it wasn't until 2000 and Alabama.
00:45:42.150 --> 00:45:49.200
Isabel Wilkerson: Finally, overturned it's it's an Anti miscegenation laws sounds like something from the 19th century, but no that was in the year 2000.
00:45:49.500 --> 00:46:07.440
Isabel Wilkerson: And so, this is something that I, that you know if all Americans knew our true history, I don't think that this would be as difficult climb in in getting to the point of repairing the damage that has happened to an entire group of people in our country hmm.
00:46:09.690 --> 00:46:17.130
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: I have so many more questions, I want to ask the, we have to over 2000 people also have many questions, and I want to be able to ask at least a few of them.
00:46:18.450 --> 00:46:21.330
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: I think you know Leslie asked a great question.
00:46:22.110 --> 00:46:29.040
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Are you aware of a society where cast is not a construct of the social organization of people and.
00:46:29.310 --> 00:46:40.200
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: I guess, I asked that because it seems like seems like everywhere, you go people construct it in one form or another, and yet you know at the root of our faith, we say everyone was created in the image of God, like.
00:46:40.800 --> 00:46:44.520
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Do people live that way is there a society you've seen that the behave that way.
00:46:45.750 --> 00:46:51.870
Isabel Wilkerson: I would say that i'm not aware of any any perfect place that's gotten it all the true value.
00:46:53.160 --> 00:46:53.430
Isabel Wilkerson: based.
00:46:54.570 --> 00:47:03.900
Isabel Wilkerson: But I would say that you know it's a continuum and and the countries that have been a more Gala Terry and and their ideals and, more specifically in their policies.
00:47:04.920 --> 00:47:14.790
Isabel Wilkerson: tend to not surprisingly, fair better and they fare better I mean you think about it so many different metrics in terms of education, Finland comes to mind.
00:47:15.600 --> 00:47:21.480
Isabel Wilkerson: As a place that works very hard at maintaining you know, a Gala.
00:47:22.470 --> 00:47:36.930
Isabel Wilkerson: Gala Terry and ideals overall they score very, very high in terms of happiness they score their children's for higher and education there's a list of them in the book there's a reference to the range of places that.
00:47:37.650 --> 00:47:51.150
Isabel Wilkerson: That do better than we do because of a sense of shared a shared state in the well being of their fellow citizens, you know, and also, I would say that the places that.
00:47:53.340 --> 00:47:58.620
Isabel Wilkerson: In the era of covert 19 and the global pandemic that were that were facing.
00:47:59.970 --> 00:48:03.420
Isabel Wilkerson: I am impressed by the countries that are being led by women.
00:48:04.020 --> 00:48:04.530
00:48:06.570 --> 00:48:18.300
Isabel Wilkerson: The wind, you know, which is a very diverse country, I mean it's a small country but it's very diverse but i'm audi's and, along with the descendants of those who arrived from from from Europe.
00:48:19.350 --> 00:48:25.980
Isabel Wilkerson: You know they you know they went in complete lockdown the way that she managed that and I think she was also pregnant at the time either she's.
00:48:27.090 --> 00:48:27.750
Isabel Wilkerson: amazing.
00:48:29.160 --> 00:48:31.410
Isabel Wilkerson: manager of the entire country.
00:48:32.940 --> 00:48:43.560
Isabel Wilkerson: There was a sense of recognizing that they were all in this together, a recognition that however one other person in the country did then, all of them were.
00:48:44.070 --> 00:48:53.610
Isabel Wilkerson: going to measure their their well being on the basis of that, and you know, for them, for very, very long time, I think they had no cases whatsoever over 19.
00:48:53.880 --> 00:49:02.610
Isabel Wilkerson: And then, when there was one that reared itself she went right into action, yet again, and so I think that there's something to be said about.
00:49:03.510 --> 00:49:12.360
Isabel Wilkerson: an egalitarian framework, if not in reality, I also think that puts us places as Rwanda have been leading the way.
00:49:13.140 --> 00:49:20.070
Isabel Wilkerson: there's been a lot of work that's been done there to overcome what was it horrific genocide in the 1990s.
00:49:20.430 --> 00:49:29.520
Isabel Wilkerson: i'm not suggesting that they have that everything is perfect there i'm not saying that i'm merely saying that, I think that there's hopefulness in the ways that they are very.
00:49:30.390 --> 00:49:38.670
Isabel Wilkerson: purposeful and intentional in their recognition of the history of the challenges that they face the divisions that they face, and how they are.
00:49:39.090 --> 00:49:46.410
Isabel Wilkerson: They are purposeful and thinking about at all times what must be done never taking anything for granted.
00:49:47.040 --> 00:49:56.040
Isabel Wilkerson: Not you know, not the saying, well, we we pass this and we legislated that so now we're good I mean our country, I think that we, we have a long way to go.
00:49:56.820 --> 00:50:06.510
Isabel Wilkerson: When we recognize what if we assume that we took care of everything in the 1960s, and now we have nothing we don't have to worry about that anymore That was all taken care of back then and.
00:50:07.200 --> 00:50:16.920
Isabel Wilkerson: You know, it shows us that we need to be ever vigilant, I think of our I think of our societies as being like the human body and.
00:50:17.670 --> 00:50:29.670
Isabel Wilkerson: or a family or a patient who has something that runs in their family, you know what i'd say it's diabetes or alcoholism, whatever it might be, and you if you know that to be the case, and you would never.
00:50:30.210 --> 00:50:41.910
Isabel Wilkerson: just say I did this, and I did that I, you know I refrained from this so i'm changing my diet so i'm good you would never assume that you know that this is an ongoing.
00:50:42.660 --> 00:50:56.280
Isabel Wilkerson: challenge that one must always be vigilant to to protect against resurgence at any time, and so that's I think how we have to look at it ourselves, is that it's it's not a one and done it's a continuum.
00:50:57.300 --> 00:51:01.590
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: use that metaphor, the body reminds me of a story from the Talmud where there is.
00:51:02.190 --> 00:51:15.600
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: conjoined twins of one body with two heads and the rabbi's are, of course, having a very important conversation they're trying to decide if both heads have to wrap to fill in which are these full prayerful actor he leather things it's hard to explain.
00:51:15.930 --> 00:51:26.160
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: But the way they decide whether or not both of them have to do it if it's two people or one person because it's got two heads, but it's one body is.
00:51:26.700 --> 00:51:33.120
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: crazy they decide to pour hot water on one head and if the other ones screens then it's it's one body now.
00:51:33.540 --> 00:51:42.660
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: As strange as that little story is the message, there is, you might think that it's it's disconnected you've got this other head, but.
00:51:43.050 --> 00:51:53.880
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: But it's like when when one of us screams here our whole body like we're all connected, and I think in some strange way the pandemic reminded us of that in a very profound way and.
00:51:54.810 --> 00:52:02.010
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And we all should be hurting with what's going on in the world with the shootings that have been continuing to happen with the.
00:52:03.090 --> 00:52:10.890
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: unburying of this system that we've put into place in the continual after effects for everyone and.
00:52:11.730 --> 00:52:20.880
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: I can't believe with the amount of time we have that we don't i'm going to give you one quick question from others, and then I want to end with a question of kind of hopefulness and then I have to pass it off so.
00:52:22.140 --> 00:52:31.830
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: I guess for those who don't know the history jennifer's asking about even one one grade worse, which is not just ignorance, but sort of.
00:52:32.430 --> 00:52:42.690
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: pushing back one thing that's remained with me is the idea of certain people not being ready to hear the truth about our caste system, what do you suggest to help engage those who are not ready.
00:52:44.730 --> 00:52:54.480
Isabel Wilkerson: That is such a tough question because a lot of it has to do with the caste system is so indelible that a lot depends upon who's saying it people are more likely to.
00:52:55.560 --> 00:53:06.810
Isabel Wilkerson: Listen and and and respond to those that they that they trust and believe that they feel a connection to that's the reason why I feel that people who can be that bridge.
00:53:07.290 --> 00:53:18.300
Isabel Wilkerson: Between worlds between societies between groups in our country or elsewhere have such an important role to play and being able to push past all of this because.
00:53:19.140 --> 00:53:30.750
Isabel Wilkerson: A lot of it has to do with being able to being seen as an authority St seen as an authority figure 16 as someone who's believable someone is credible and making the case you know, of course.
00:53:31.170 --> 00:53:44.640
Isabel Wilkerson: The work that I do is as an effort to bring narrative in it, so that it is it pulls you into the story it pulls you into being able to see yourself.
00:53:45.420 --> 00:53:52.530
Isabel Wilkerson: In the experience of someone very presumably very different from you or who you've been told a very different from you, and you know.
00:53:53.370 --> 00:54:01.410
Isabel Wilkerson: i'm an advocate for what is called narrative nonfiction because what it does, is it it's the closest that you will get to being another person I mean it's not.
00:54:01.680 --> 00:54:06.300
Isabel Wilkerson: fiction is powerful and build empathy but nonfiction narrative nonfiction is.
00:54:06.750 --> 00:54:16.440
Isabel Wilkerson: storytelling but with real people, people who are verifiably real and so therefore you get a chance to be someone and i've been impressed by how people read the warmth of the sun, for example.
00:54:16.710 --> 00:54:27.090
Isabel Wilkerson: And and you'll have people from many different backgrounds will be pulling for someone and seeing themselves in the body of someone who's imperiled because our society.
00:54:27.390 --> 00:54:39.210
Isabel Wilkerson: treats people and assigns people a role that's when I look like, and so they get into it and they just feel you know I felt so worried for Robert as he was making the drive through the desert, I mean they just they feel that and I think that.
00:54:39.480 --> 00:54:51.810
Isabel Wilkerson: This idea of being able to feel something the compassion that is within human beings that needs to be activated so that we can feel that connection, and then that opens I think the heart to recognizing that.
00:54:52.440 --> 00:55:03.300
Isabel Wilkerson: To be open to the the history that we all need to know and that's one of the reasons why I think actually the curriculums need to change so that that young people going forward get that true history, from the start.
00:55:04.500 --> 00:55:15.240
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: I can't think of a more powerful bridge builder than you on this topic, you have somehow with your narrative storytelling your own personal journey.
00:55:15.810 --> 00:55:30.450
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: opened our hearts to an experience that many people have wanted to ignore or have not seen themselves in you have opened up our our own radical empathy in such a profound way it's definitely shaped the way I think about this topic in my own life.
00:55:31.470 --> 00:55:35.040
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: I also can't help but think that we as a Jewish community, those of us who are.
00:55:36.150 --> 00:55:43.080
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: celebrating the holiday of Passover that's coming up just this week, we are engaging in perhaps the most.
00:55:44.880 --> 00:55:59.730
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Radical empathy exercise of narrative storytelling that our tradition offers with telling a seder and here we are, you know the central commandment of the holiday is not just that you tell the story of slaves back then.
00:56:00.240 --> 00:56:09.390
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: It actually says Behold door by door in every generation you personally have to know what it was like and tell the story of what it was when you were enslaved.
00:56:09.840 --> 00:56:20.460
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: And I think about what it would mean for each of us whether or not you're celebrating Easter or Ramadan or Passover or you're just a person of good conscience to actually.
00:56:21.300 --> 00:56:30.000
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Bring yourself in, in particular in a ritualized way because there's something about the power of ritual and symbol and singing and tasting and and eating.
00:56:31.470 --> 00:56:40.740
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: to actually put yourself in the shoes of what it is to be in that narrowest of places to be oppressed and.
00:56:41.460 --> 00:56:52.920
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: to know that redemption is possible, but we can't do it by ourselves, we don't believe in an individual salvation there's only collective salvation and collective redemption, so I think about.
00:56:53.490 --> 00:57:09.660
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: It my seder I will be holding hands with you is about and taking you with me on this journey as I think about the ways that you have opened our hearts and our minds to the work that needs to be done for a collective redemption for this country and really for our world.
00:57:10.800 --> 00:57:12.120
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: I truly feel.
00:57:13.170 --> 00:57:26.730
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: The privilege of speaking with one of our modern day moses's and miriam's and profits of the world and and I just thank you so deeply for for for not just preaching this.
00:57:27.870 --> 00:57:35.820
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: But praying this prayer for us with love and a deep sense of the possibility of humanity, so thank you.
00:57:36.360 --> 00:57:53.460
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: deeply for this conversation for this sort of spiritual charge you've given us all if you haven't read the book i'm telling you all, it is the must read book and and I want to give thanks again to the Museum of Jewish heritage and pass it to Ari Goldstein who will close us tonight.
00:57:56.130 --> 00:58:03.840
Ari Goldstein: Isabel and Angeles, was an amazing discussion Thank you so much, I want to share three brief thank yous the museum before we close this evening.
00:58:04.200 --> 00:58:10.590
Ari Goldstein: First, to the two of you all of us at the museum are grateful for your time and insight and for the work you do to.
00:58:10.920 --> 00:58:17.250
Ari Goldstein: To define and repair the boundaries of cast in our country, and I know a lot of the audience Members are two more comments.
00:58:17.790 --> 00:58:25.050
Ari Goldstein: Second, a very big thank you to Richard colon and the marcia Horwitz education fund for cross cultural awareness, for making tonight's program possible.
00:58:26.040 --> 00:58:28.950
Ari Goldstein: And third, a thank you to our audience this evening for joining us.
00:58:29.250 --> 00:58:37.830
Ari Goldstein: All of our work at the Museum of Jewish heritage to teach the history and lessons of the Holocaust and connect them to a world today to build a more compassionate world.
00:58:38.010 --> 00:58:52.290
Ari Goldstein: is made possible by people like you, so thank you to those of you who have supported the museum and we asked you to consider making a donation if you're able, you can contribute to the museum and order, your copy of cast the origins of our discontents at the links in the zoom chat.
00:58:53.460 --> 00:59:01.320
Ari Goldstein: Isabel and Angela thank you both again you've left us with so much food for thought action we wish a happy Passover to all who celebrate and a grady.
00:59:02.670 --> 00:59:03.480
Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl: Thank you.
00:59:04.050 --> 00:59:04.680