Describing a train wreck

I’m reading Caste: The Origin of our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson, and here’s just one of the new insights I’m getting from this book. On page 54, Wilkerson writes:

The overarching rule was that the lowest caste was to remain low in every way at all times, at any cost. Every reference was intended to reinforce their inferiority. In describing a train wreck, for instance, newspapers would report, “two men and two women were killed, and four Negroes.”

I immediately recalled my blog post from Jan. 1, 2019, Streets of danger, in which I wrote about an accident involving a street car on which my great-grandmother, Frances Zuiker, had been a passenger. The 1936 Chicago Tribune article that described the accident did exactly what Wilkerson explains.

In my blog post, I understood the article to be reflecting the racism of the time.

Now I better understand that that newspaper was actually reinforcing the “living, breathing entity” that is caste in this country.

More insights to come as I slowly read this book.



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