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“Origin” reviewed

Ava DuVernay has turned to the journalist and commentator Isabel Wilkerson, the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer prize for journalism, and specifically her 2020 bestseller Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. The book radically challenged the concept of race in thinking about inequality and injustice and asked the reader instead to consider “caste” – larger patterns and gradations of prejudice. After all, those western observers who may well agree that there are real, essential differences between white and black and gentile and Jew may be baffled by the continuing caste injustice in India – that’s if they think about it at all – which is just as brutal as Jim Crow, although the physical differences between Dalits and the rest are surely arbitrary and illusory. As Wilkerson says, there is “racism” in India, but they are all brown.