Study Guide

Orange Is the New Black Race

By Piper Kerman

Race

You may have heard America called a melting pot (and not in the fondue restaurant sense of the word), but the different races in the United States don't exactly melt together. It's still pretty segregated.

Prison still isn't quite a melting pot, either—it's more of a pressure cooker. The women in Orange is the New Black still divide themselves along race lines, but there are many situations when they have no choice but to mix together. The results aren't as volatile as you might expect, however, and everyone seems to generally get along.

Questions About Race

  1. Why do women in prison divide themselves by race? Why is Piper able to crossover between different groups?
  2. In what ways do the inmates conform to racial stereotypes? How do they defy them?
  3. Why do people think Piper will get a light sentence because she's white? Do you think this happens often?

Chew on This

Prison is a microcosm of society, and when people divide themselves along racial lines, stereotypes of all kinds start to become more and more apparent.

Piper isn't the only person trying to see beyond race and be friends with people outside of her own; the Black and Latina women who are friends with Piper are doing the exact same thing.