Oprah Winfrey’s book club becomes a podcast to change how we talk about racism

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey has a new podcast related to her book club.
(Karen Ballard)

You get a podcast! You get a podcast! Everybody gets a podcast!

Oprah Winfrey has taken her popular book club virtual: The talk show host is bringing “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson to Apple Books as an ebook and audiobook — and to Apple Podcasts, discussing with Wilkerson “how society needs a new way to talk about racism.”

The new podcast spans eight parts, one for each “pillar of caste.” Tuesday’s premiere episode delves into the background behind the book, and upcoming episodes will be released for free on Apple Podcasts on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“This work shows that the term ‘racism’ may be insufficient in our current era,” Wilkerson told Apple News. “We need new language, a new framework for understanding our divisions and how we got to where we are. ‘Caste’ gives us this language. ‘Caste’ allows us to see ourselves through a different lens and the chance to work toward healing from the wounds of artificial hierarchy. We must first see it to begin to resolve it.”

Author Isabel Wilkerson
Isabel Wilkerson is the author of “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.”
(Joe Henson)

Renowned for her 2010 book, “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration,” the author and journalist published her second book, “Caste,” to largely positive reviews in early August.

“This might be the most important book I’ve ever chosen for my book club,” Winfrey told Apple News. “‘Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents’ provides a new way of seeing racial inequality, giving rise to countless aha moments and helping us truly understand America as it is now and how we hope it will be.”

With her 86th pick, Winfrey has turned the tables toward discussing racial equity and away from the controversy that shrouded the book club earlier this year. In March, the media mogul faced a backlash after selecting “American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins, which appropriated Mexican American experiences.

Oprah Winfrey first launched Oprah’s Book Club on Sept. 16, 1996, 10 years into “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” one of the highest-rated daytime talk shows in television history.

More recently, however, Winfrey has been lauded for her decision to dedicate the July cover of O magazine to Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed in her apartment by Louisville, Ky., police using a “no-knock” search warrant.

“What I know for sure: We can’t be silent,” Winfrey wrote in a column explaining the cover. “We have to use whatever megaphone we have to cry for justice. And that is why Breonna Taylor is on the cover of O magazine. I cry for justice in her name.”