Oprah has officially launched the Oprah's Book Club podcast, her latest collaboration with Apple that will offer a deeper look at her selections and their cultural importance.
The first book to be explored is Isabel Wilkerson's Caste, which focuses on the racial and class hierarchy in America.
The series will consist of eight episodes, the first of which was released on September 8.
Good news, bookworms: Oprah's Book Club program is adding a new dimension, with the official Oprah's Book Club podcast. The series' first eight episodes will focus on Oprah's selection Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, the new book from Isabel Wilkerson that explores the system of class and racial hierarchy in America.
The first episode of the podcast came out on September 8, with Oprah and Wilkerson discussing the way we talk about race in America and what inspired her to write Caste. When Oprah chose Caste back in August, she said she did so because it speaks both to new issues being confronted in this era of racial justice protests, as well as age-old problems at the very heart of America.
"This might be the most important book I’ve ever chosen for my book club,” she said of Caste, adding that it “provides a new way of seeing racial inequality, giving rise to countless aha moments and helping us truly understand America as it is now and how we hope it will be.”
In an interview with OprahMag.com, Wilkerson pointed to the rise of the transatlantic slave trade as the main catalyst event that gave rise to the American caste system.
"It was the convergence of people who might have looked different from one another that created the impulse to define people on the basis of what they looked like," she said. "Before that, there was no concept of race as we now know it. Race is only a concept that dates back four hundred or five hundred years."
Wearing a shirt encouraging people to vote, Oprah took to her Instagram to talk about Caste and the decision to launch the podcast in a video posted to Twitter.
"Because I feel this book is meeting the current moment and upending a lot of people's perceptions about inequality, I wanted to dig even deeper into it," she said. "I'm launching a podcast, to explore and to teach with Isabel Wilkerson, about the eight pillars of caste."
The specific pillars of Caste posited by Wilkerson and explored at length by her and Oprah are "Divine will," "Heritability," "Endogamy," "Purity and pollution," "Occupational hierarchy," "Dehumanization and stigma," "Terror and cruelty," and "Inherent superiority and inferiority." Each of these qualities is present in caste systems found in different societies.
Wilkerson is a veteran journalist whose first book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, was released to acclaim in 2010. Among her many accomplishments, she was the first Black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the midwest in The New York Times, where she was also Chicago Bureau Chief.
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