When I discovered the brilliance of Isabel Wilkerson, I was stunned. I was stunned just like I was the first time I knew Nikki Giovanni existed and read Ego Tripping by her. There is a richness to her writing that I enjoy, and to know she is a journalist as well? And a Howard alum? Just, SHOW OUT, ma’am! We are not worthy!
It’s not enough for her to have written the Pulitzer Prize winning book The Warmth Of Other Suns, a complex retelling of the Great Migration, she has now written Caste: The Origins Of Our Discontents. Why is this important? In Caste, Wilkerson speaks about the African origins of vaccines and vaccinations. As a science nerd, I knew who Edward Jenner is and his research with cowpox and smallpox. But to find out that this science of vaccination came from the account of an African slave, who said that his tribe noticed when they used the infected blood in their own wounds, they didn’t succumb to the diseases that killed other people? To hear that, to know now that, is powerful.
It’s powerful because there is still so much about Black history, about being descended from African people, that I still just–don’t know. Every year during Black History Month, I learn something else. Something else is discovered, invented or revealed! It feels so unfair to still be finding things about about my ancestral/national origin after being on this continent 402 years!
The things that are hidden from us, writers always seem to find! You cannot convince me that writing isn’t a call or a duty. Read this book. Black history is still made (and discovered) daily.