11 September 2010

THE COURAGE OF TIM WISE


Initially, Tim Wise has this unassuming manner about him and he could be your high school teacher, coach, businessman or a CPA until he stands at the podium and begins to lecture.  Yes, he is a scholar/educator, middle class white man reared in the south, however, as I listened to him-- he morphed into this incredible truth teller on systemic racism. This is especially intriguing during this alleged post-racial era of President Obama.  Some words that come to mind as I continued to listen is boldness, activism, bravery, intelligence and humility.  At first, I wondered ...who is this guy and why haven't I heard of him before?  I thought I was aware of most of the outspoken progressives until I tuned in on C-Span Book TV where he was discussing his new book Colorblind.  After viewing that program, I bought it and also started reading his other books; White Like Me, Between Barack and a Hard Place and Affirmative Action. 

Mr. Wise, described as an anti-racist, has been at this for a long time with numerous lectures on the subject, conducting training programs at various corporations and non-profit institutions on the insidiousness of racism and how to dismantle it.  His goal is a challenging one and based on comments by many who are in denial or politically opposed--an impossible one.  What's so inspiring about his life's work is that it hasn't deterred him.  Many well known academicians, labor leaders and journalists have praised his work and one of my favorite authors and scholars, Robin D.G. Kelley states, "Wise's work is revolutionary, and those who react negatively are simply afraid of hearing the truth...".  I'm interested in your comments after viewing Tim Wise's lecture on his book Color Blind with C-Span Book TV and his overall opinions on white privilege in general.



2 comments:

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]he morphed into this incredible truth teller on systemic racism.[/quote]

Ms Moon:

I have no choice but to accept your interpretation of Tim Wise. However when I partake in his messages that have been spouted for several years I can think of NO TIME in which he articulated WHAT BLACK PEOPLE NEED TO DO TO ADVANCE OUR CAUSE.

I am of the opinion that Mr Wise (and truthfully the bulk of the Black civil rights establishment) have the opinion that the Black community will progress centrally by fighting against racism from the outside AND demanding that all people in America yield to the "national contract" that we have with each other, thus allowing the national government to express the mandate to SHARE EQUALLY with one another. Of course he can detail what "those who have" must share while not being able to identify what "The Least of These" owe as part of their contractual commitments.

In summary - I see a strategic dead end in following the message of Tim Wise.

Our communities need to focus upon COMPETENCY DEVELOPMENT. We have been taken by the notion that by gaining political power that this will provide the leverage to make us whole. Yet the sad truth is that so many of the "Mission Accomplished Cities" are the places where the Black community's interests are molested.

It then comes as no surprise that Mr Wise and others will see the condition of "The Least Of These" having become "all by themselves", with the favorable people in power per their choosing are NOT viewed as having to "manage their resources toward prosperity", the results indicating the need for CHANGE.

Instead Mr Wise will see that they are victims of BENIGN NEGLECT. The greater society having failed them.

I do not view Tim Wise (and many others) as a friend of BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS DEVELOPMENT. In fact they play the soothing violin of Black Inferiority and Victimization.

CAROLYN MOON (AMINA) said...

As I've always maintained; there is always another way to view. However, I don't think Tim espouses black inferiority and victimization. He speaks to folks that he has more of an inside track on (white folks)and he exposes the smokescreens that many have hidden behind for many years and up to this day. He holds seminars and training programs within organizations and firms in which systems promote racism and he offers solutions to leveling the playing field. This includes sexuality and gender issues as well.
I believe he understands that there are many people of color who advance despite the vestiges of racism, yet, recognizes that there isn't a margin of error for them.
He's not looked at as a savior for black people but as many of us climb out of this hole; he doesn't participate in continuing to shovel the dirt on us as we do so. The problem that I have with many conservatives whether they are black or white is that they are hardest and the least understanding for those who have had to suffer under various forms of oppression in this country, yet, tend to be so understanding or dismissive of the actions of the perpetrators and are quick to absolve them of any role they play in this ongoing human drama and tragedy.

I must say that I understand some of what you are saying; again, Tim doesn't fall in that group. I think of Bill Clinton as one who seems to be the most understanding when black folks are in need and "pitiful", yet, has difficulty with those who are confident and aspire for bigger and better things. I remember how he framed Barack Obama to Edward Kennedy during the campaign. In essence, a Barack Obama used to serve us drinks not too long too ago. What I hear is how dare he try to run for the highest office in the country and the most powerful position in the world. I could on but I won't except to say that I respect your opinion although I don't agree with it.

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