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12      Caste: A Social Stratification

  The grouping of people together and according them status within society according to the groups they belong to, is as old as society itself.

It is quite inevitable not to know people from different walks of lives. For as long as we have been living in this world, there are people who come and go. Therefore, the one thing to digest here is whether the existence of caste truly dwells in our lives.

Growing up as a minority did a part in me. Since young, I was constantly reminded of the fact that being involved with the other side of society was not a good idea. Because they were not ‘our people’. Reversed discrimination? Maybe. Social stratification? Quite like it.

It is an agony that up to this day, such a thing as caste is still around and alive.

Just the other day, I witnessed a so-called social incident, at a local deli. A smart looking gentleman in a very fine suit - you would have thought he would have been fine-tuned as well. Apparently, not so. At the register, he was told how much he needed to pay. Instead of giving it out in the cashier’s hand, he utterly threw his money out at her.

A friend of mine shared this story with me weeks ago that her supervisor told her not to hang out so much with her co-worker and to find another person that would be more intellectual. Just because she was of different background. It was none of his business, first of all, let alone a unjustified stratification.

Another time, another place. I happened to hear a store manager told one of his employees to watch a dark-skinned man who just walked in because the man might take something out of the store without paying. In other words, the man was already accused of stealing even before he had a chance to construct the idea.

But, why?

The caste system was prevalent in India, but it is not too much to say that the caste system still exists in our everyday lives. Social stratification can be related to social status. Where the rich are not supposed to mix with the poor. Where the intelligent are expected to avoid the unintellectual ones.

True, there are certain standards in the way we live. Social stratification is associated with the ability of individuals to live up set by the society or some social group within it. Social stratification possibly causes racism, classism as well as sexism. No one wishes to be on the bottom of the social hierarchy. The ones on the top want to maintain at their high level, hence social conflicts among people.

Social stratification can happen based on physical traits; when hanging out with an ex of different skin color, let me just say, there was a lot of staring and judging involved. It can also happen based on wealth; happened to one of my acquaintances who broke up her relationship with someone because he was too wealthy for her, that she was not at his level.

Social stratification is fairly rigid. One’s position in the society is determined by that of one’s ancestor. It might be impossible to solve the issue of social stratification overnight. But if we could just lessen the issue, it would be quite a life.

Perhaps the next time we grab something from a local bodega, we could handle the money transaction more wisely. Maybe the next time we bump into a person of different skin tone, we do not jump the gun and judge right away. Or, perhaps if we could start saying hello to our neighbors that just moved in from the country that is often associated to terrorism and such. It would be a whole lot better world.

“Even if you’re in a Benz, you’re still a ***** in a coupe.”
—Kanye West - All Falls Down