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Race matters

New York Teacher

“Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent” by Isabel Wilkerson puts the issue of racism into a whole new perspective. Her analogy sees American racism in the same state as that of the Nazis and Jews and the “untouchables” in India.

The idea that racism (or casteism) is structural and manifests itself in individuals (and groups) in covert and in an unconscious manner is something new. We are all on some level a product of those historical forces that have shaped us. The most discomforting element of the racial caste system is that nobody can avoid its demarcations. “We would all like to feel that racism is merely a vestige of a painful past instead of this indelible part of our present,” writes the essayist Roxane Gay.

This is a difficult issue to address, but educators in all levels and disciplines must take the lead in bringing about a long overdue public transformation on the issue of race. Addressing the issue when people are young and impressionable may be the only way to alter an unjust system. My optimism resides with teachers and schools — it is they who must lead the way!

Larry Hoffner, retired

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