Entering its 15th year of initiating community discussion around the themes of one particular book, the Lake Oswego Reads program has shown its proclivity for asking Lake Oswegans to take a long, hard look at themselves in relation to hot topics. This year’s selection, Caste: The Origins of our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson follows last year’s book dealing with climate change and the one prior to that addressing immigration.
“America is like an old house,” Wilkerson writes. “Like other old houses, America has an unseen skeleton, a caste system that is as central to its operations as are the studs and joists that we cannot see in the physical buildings we call home. Caste is the infrastructure of our divisions.”
Wilkerson assigns blame for this caste system to all of us, by allowing it through our actions and the meaning we attach to differences. Her attempt, through her book, and the Lake Oswego Reads attempt, through their programming, is to awaken all of us to this underlying force and then to encourage us to make a choice as to how we will proceed.
We are into week two of programming. Here are some of the upcoming opportunities for gaining insight into this insidious force that has shaped our worldview both globally, locally, and personally.
“RACIAL HYGIENE” IN NAZI GERMANY. There are lessons to be learned from history and Professor Maureen Healy of the Department of History at Lewis & Clark College will glean some from Nazi Germany. Learn about the policies and laws that were implemented that set the stage for the Holocaust and how German Jews coped with their shrinking legal and civic identities. Thursday, February 11 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Pre-registration required.
THE POLITICS OF RACIAL DIVISIVENESS. Hear Portland State Political Science professor, Dr. Jack Miller, explore the political, economic and psychological dynamics that contributed to the process of assembling a racist power structure ion the United States. Tuesday, February 16 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Pre-registration required.
WHEN JUST US, GET NO JUSTICE. Professor Shirley A. Jackson gives a talk focused on the intersecting caste-like system of race and gender that works to silence and restrain Black women’s voices. Wednesday, February 17, 7:00 p.m. Zoom. Pre-registration required.
COOKING WITH A CITY COUNCILOR. Join our newest Lake Oswego City Councilor, Massene Mboup, as he teaches viewers how to cook his favorite Senegalese Chicken and Rice dish. Recipe will be provided with sign-up for this virtual event. Saturday, February 20 from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Pre-registration required.
UNLEARNING & RE-EDUCATING: WHY LO NEEDS CURRICULUM REFORM. Hear it from the students themselves—listen in on this panel discussion with Lake Oswego School District students on the need for anti-racist curriculum in Lake Oswego schools. Sunday, February 21 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Pre-registration required.
HEAR AUTHOR ISABEL WILKERSON. Listen in as this year’s Lake Oswego Reads author examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions. Tuesday, February 23 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Pre-registration required.
Check the full schedule for other events, including facilitated book discussions.
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