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On February 15th, the WBD Black Affinity Group hosted a film discussion on the new movie Origin, directed by Ava DuVernay and based on the book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson. The movie explores the connections between the caste systems in the United States, India, and Nazi Germany, and how they shape our lives and society.

The discussion was attended by lawyers and staff from across the firm. The discussion was moderated by BAG leaders La'Tika Howard, Yohanna Mihreteab, and Danielle Mull, who facilitated the conversation and encouraged the participants to share their thoughts and feelings about the movie, as well as their personal experiences and perspectives on race and caste. The discussion also touched on the eight pillars of caste that Wilkerson identifies in her book: 

  • Divine will: the belief that social stratification is beyond human control, either divinely ordained or a natural law
  • Heritability: the belief that social status is acquired at birth and immutable
  • Endogamy: the prohibition of sex and marriage between castes
  • Purity and pollution: the belief that the dominant caste is “pure” and must be protected against pollution by the inferior castes
  • Occupational hierarchy: the reservation of the more desirable occupations for the superior castes
  • Dehumanization and stigma: the denial of individuality and human dignity of lower-caste individuals
  • Terror and cruelty: as means of enforcement of the caste system and control of lower-caste people
  • Inherent superiority and inferiority of castes: the belief that people of one caste are inherently superior to those of other castes

Below is a word cloud of emotions that attendees said they felt when watching the movie. The word cloud shows the diversity and intensity of emotions that the movie evoked, and how it challenged and inspired the viewers to rethink their assumptions and perspectives.

We would like to thank everyone who joined the discussion and contributed to the lively and respectful dialogue. We hope all enjoyed the movie and the conversation, and we look forward to our next film discussion on the movie American Fiction.

Word cloud of emotions and thoughts from the movie Origin.