Winfrey picks Isabel Wilkerson's 'Caste' for her book club

This cover image released by Random House shows "Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents" by Isabel Wilkerson. Oprah Winfrey has chosen Wilkersons Caste as her new book club selection. The book looks at American history and the treatment of Blacks and finds what she calls an enduring, unseen and unmentioned caste system. (Random House via AP)
This cover image released by Random House shows "Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents" by Isabel Wilkerson. Oprah Winfrey has chosen Wilkersons Caste as her new book club selection. The book looks at American history and the treatment of Blacks and finds what she calls an enduring, unseen and unmentioned caste system. (Random House via AP)

NEW YORK – If not for the coronavirus, Oprah Winfrey says, she would be out in the streets and marching with the Black Lives Matter protesters.

She has instead found other ways to add her voice.

She is working with Lionsgate on a multimedia adaptation of The New York Times' “1619 Project” on the legacy of slavery. She interviewed Stacey Abrams and Ava DuVernay among others during a two-night special on her OWN network about racism and how to address it . The current issue of O: The Oprah Magazine features a cover photo of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Black emergency room technician killed by police in her home in Louisville, Kentucky. It's the first time in the publication's 20-year history that Winfrey herself has not appeared on the front.

And on Tuesday, Winfrey announced she had chosen Isabel Wilkerson's exploration of race and hierarchy in the U.S., “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” as her latest book club pick.

Wilkerson's book, Winfrey said in a telephone interview, “could change the way we see each other, how we see our humanity and the structure of our world."

The 59-year-old Wilkerson is an author and journalist who won the National Book Critics Circle award in 2011 for her previous book, “The Warmth of Other Suns,” about the Black migration from the South in the early 20th century. In “Caste,” she looks at American history and the treatment of Blacks and finds what she calls an enduring, unseen and unmentioned caste system — not unlike those in India or Nazi Germany — that has yet to be fully confronted.

“You cannot solve a problem unless you identify it and define it,” Wilkerson told The Associated Press, adding that Winfrey's endorsement means “many more people who have not learned about this will have the chance to read about something that deeply affects us all.”

“Caste” was published Tuesday and already has won praise, with the Times calling it an “extraordinary document” and “almost certainly the keynote nonfiction book of the American century this far.” Winfrey cited the book in June, listing it along with Robin DiAngelo's “White Fragility” and Ibram X. Kendi's “How To Be An Antiracist” as essential reads on racism.