2021 Congregational Read of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Congregational Read of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

On December 13, 2020 our congregation voted to adopt the 8th Principle of Unitarian Universalism, proposed by Black Lives of UU:  We, the members the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, Indiana, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.


Beginning in February, 2021 we embarked on a congregational read of Pulitzer-Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson’s latest book, Caste: The Origins of our Discontents. Facilitated discussion and writing groups offer the opportunity to learn from this important book and from each other.  In addition to the facilitated groups, self-formed discussion groups and individuals reading independently are joining in the congregational read.


This page acts as a clearinghouse for the reading schedule, reflective prompts, and links to related resources.  It will be updated throughout the course of the congregational read.


Reading Schedule and Reflective Prompts

  • Week of February 14: The Man in the Crowd and Part One;  Week 1 Prompts
  • Week of February 21: Part Two; Week 2 Prompts
  • Week of February 28:  <no reading>
  • Week of March 7: Part Three; Questions Week 3
  • Week of March 14: Part Four (first half): Brown Eyes versus Blue Eyes, Chapters 10, 11, 12, 13
  • Week of March 21: Part Four (second half): Chapters 14, 15, 16, 17, 18
  • Week of March 28: <no reading>
  • Week of April 4: Part Five
  • Week of April 11: Part Six
  • Week of April 18: Part Seven and Epilogue
  • Week of April 25: Final meeting of facilitated groups – no reading

Other Resources

A video recording of the IU-hosted event “Race, Caste, and Inequality: A Conversation with Isabel Wilkerson” will be available until 3/3/21 from this page: https://broadcast.iu.edu/events/iub_isabel_wilkerson_2021-02-17.html

A video recording of the 2/14/21 IU-hosted event “Race, Caste, and Inequality: A Student-Focused Discussion”, along with books recommended by the panel, is available here: https://iu.mediaspace.kaltura.com/media/t/1_1ycscvnc

A 1/21/2021 interview with Isabel Wilkerson on the NY Times podcast Sway on why a new presidency alone can’t fix America’s 400-year-old race-based hierarchy.  America’s Caste System is 400 Years Old.  That Doesn’t Change Overnight

Article by Arundhati Roy about India’s Caste system:

Indiana Daily Student section dedicated to the voices of Black IU Students.  https://www.idsnews.com/section/black-voices