….Not Tonight!

By Braxton Gray, aka Word Sword

Source: Tim Wise.com
Source: Tim Wise.com

If ever there was a time in life that the Word-Sword wad wished that he was white, it was defiantly not on this previous Thursday night at Memorial Hall at Central Connecticut State University. What could make me so fearful as to renounce ever sharing that hollowed privilege even for one night? Well, it was on this night that the guest speaker for the Bridging The Gap event, Tim Wise, called white folks to task for crimes (real and imagined) against people of color.

Source: Tim Wise.com
Source: Tim Wise.com

Wise spoke a brand of  truth to a group of people (some of which had either never heard of cared to hear about it) that not only raised their coattails but spanked their asses in a sometimes graphic nature. Wise spoke about racial, gender, and wealth inequalities — such as how and why black people are fearful of the police. The things that  Wise spoke of should be  familiar to readers of these past posts submitted by the Word-Sword. We have been investigating these topics since this blog’s inception: inequality in employment and pay, opportunities in education, choice of residence, inequality in incarceration and arrest, and the list goes on.

Wise spoke for the still heretofore “invisible” men and women (some of whom look like him) who remain voiceless even while shouting because the

Source: Tim Wise.com
Source: Tim Wise.com

privileged have closed their ears.

Wise spoke the words for people such as previous guest speaker and fellow activist, Bishop Selders (who was arrested again today for protesting in Hartford) These people try to get white folks to, as motion picture The Matrix exhorts,  “take the red pill’ and wake up to the , way this country conducts its business. Wake up to the inequality that Donald Trump and the 1 percent don’t and won’t talk about. Wake up to equitable ways to distribute the vast wealth of this land of ours (all of ours from the Native Americans to the newly arrived refugees whom may be of a different religion).

Wise spoke for the Black Women not asked to speak for themselves, for the Black kids receiving a lead “Christmas present” from his local law enforcement “protector.” Wise spoke for the nights and days that lie between now and true equality.

Source: Tim Wise.com

Source: Tim Wise.com



Dear fellow bloggers,

article-0-1AE9E648000005DC-23_634x423“Admit that you do not know what you do not know, and then listen to the people who do.” I don’t know about you, but I have a VERY hard time admitting stuff that I don’t know. But Tim Wise does have a  good point, how can we as a country fix all the wrong circulating when we wont even admit that there is anything wrong to fix?

This year’s Bridging the Gap event was about income inequality through the prism of race. As Wise said, we won’t have to have this conversation anymore when a woman of color, particularly a working class queer woman of color, can give the same speech he did and be taken just as seriously as he was.

I have to admit when I heard   Wise would be speaking, I thought to myself, what is this white, 40-something-year-old man going to tell me about racism and inequality? But I went there with an open mind and I’m glad I did, because everything he said was not only true, but  was extremely eye-opening.

Wise said ‘the problem is that if you don’t take the class, you never know.’ If you never take a geometry class, you will never know geometry. So the issue here is that the members of the dominant group never had to take the class. Take me: I’m a 21-year old white female from a middle class family. I grew up in a predominantly white town. Honestly, from kindergarten to my senior year of high school, I probably knew about 15 African American kids. I never had to take the class. I don’t know what it’s like to not be in the dominant group. I don’t know anywhere near the inequality that some people live through every day, and exactly as  Wise said, they don’t teach us this stuff in school.

The only inequality I knew from the time I was born until high school was when the boys’ football team wouldn’t let me play with them, even though I was light years better than 80 percent of the team. Yeah, I was upset and felt not good enough, but that doesn’t come close to what some people are dealing with on a day to day basis, and it’s sad that some people are completely oblivious to this.

One of Wise’s points particularly  stuck with me: Cheerleading  for your country is NOWHERE near the same as CARING for it. So to quote Wise one last time:

“When white folks ask black folks ‘When are ya’ll going to get over slavery?’ I don’t know maybe when ya’ll get over the Fourth of July. Because that shit happened a long time ago. We did not break away from the British last Tuesday; that is some really old stuff. And acting as if something that happened over 230 years ago is something still worth talking about every single year, see we like to remember the stuff that makes us feel good, we just don’t want to deal with the ugly.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Wise was right, and smart, and exactly as his name says, wise. I learned a lot listening to him speak, and I’m ready for that day to come when that queer working class woman of color gives her speech. I’ll be there with my notebook and voice recorder. Will you?


Your friendly neighborhood white kid living in Snapchat Nation

Stop lying to yourself

Stop-Telling-White-Lies-Step-4By Olivia C. Granja

Welcome to Snapchat nation, where any problem, thought, feeling, or inequality will be forgotten in less than ten seconds.

The  thought  that racism ended with the election of President Barack Obama in 2009, is incorrect and needs to come to an end. Racism is still a huge part of the society and will continue to be if action is not taken. It is not one’s fault that they were raised within a system of lies, but it is now their responsibility to create change.

Only 10 percent of Connecticut’s 169 towns offers affordable housing.

A shockingly low percentage when statistics show African American families are three times more likely to grow up poor.

In today’s society where 30 percent of someone’s paycheck goes toward housing, it is very important that the place were one resides typically is their biggest investment.

Exclusionary zoning affects people of color directly and drastically. Exclusionary zoning is zoning ordinances that keep out certain people from a given community. These ordinances can create white dominant towns and prevent children of color from attending superior schools — thus impacting their educational career as well as social upbringing.

African Americans are five to nine times more likely to be incarcerated than whites and four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana. That totals to 160,000 African Americans being arrested a year in the United States. This incarnation rate does not represent a “War on Drugs” yet represents a war on people of a certain race and economic status. This war is resulting in 1.6 million African Americans with a criminal record, who have lost the opportunity to vote, certain housing options, employment prospects, and education benefits.

Stop scapegoating. People of color cannot be considered “lazy” and “job stealers” at the same time. This is not about white people but about whiteness as a system of thought or behavior. A typical white dropout makes TWICE the net worth than an African American college graduate. Yet, white people are far less likely to see the discrepancies between the races. Implicit bias plays a  role in their inability to see the reality of the facts. Implicit Bias is an attitude or belief that is outside of the conscious awareness or control. There are also certain luxurious that come when one is a part of a dominant group. The main luxury is being oblivious. When one is considered “normal” in society, they often don’t get labeled or think about how they don’t belong.

It is time to stop pretending to be colorblind but instead be color aware. This is not about politics (democratic or republican) but it is about justice for all. These issues are imbedded within the society and great bounds must still be accomplished to see drastic change. One cannot stay still on this moving train or they will have no say in where they end up.

Doing the math at Walmart

By Treamell Lawrence

walmart-subsidy-1Tim Wise, an anti-racism activist and writer who spoke at CCSU’s Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred event on Dec. 10, mentioned that every incident has a predicate.

Income inequality affects more  minorities because the ugly truth is the dominant whites always have  benefits.  Powerful conservative forces are the protectors of the status quo and insist that wealth stays in the hands of the private sector and wealthy class.  They oppose government policies and programs that hint at the redistribution of public and private resources to benefit Blacks.

Wise argued that we are living in a Snapchat nation because most whites want to forget about slavery and other harmful things done to minorities.  Wise illustrated the world we live by comparing it to the movie The Matrix based on Neo’s decision to take the blue pill which represented a simulated comfortable world or the red pill which represented the real world of physical and emotional abuse based on their uniqueness.

Wise explained that the mainstream media is sometimes part of the simulated world when they misrepresent those who combat income inequality, Black poverty or police brutality.  For example, in my previous blog I mentioned Bishop John Selders, Jr. who is a part of Black Lives Matter.  Fox News may label Bishop John Selders  a bigot and frame Black Lives Matter as an unstable, dangerous group when they are an activist group protesting against the mistreatment of Black Americans and police brutality.

Wise he informed his fellow Wwite Americans that the reason  Black Americans are afraid of the police is because in America’s early days police were the slave patrols.  They would lynch African Americans during picnics and sold their body parts as trophies.  Within my generation, minorities are not in tune with politics, which allows whites to use this to their advantage to vote for someone who represents their interest.

This furthers widens the gap between the rich and the poor.  It is amazing how evident this is as  Wise pointed out that six heirs of Walmart have a combined wealth of 127 million African Americans in our country.  We have Walmart, the wealthiest corporation pay their employees non-livable wages.  Those same employees take advantage of Walmart’s Snap Benefits or Food Stamps.

I feel that the legal system further enhanced income inequality.   African American’s built this country with their blood, sweat and tears, but some white Americans want to label them  lazy.  A good example would be the famous 1857 Dred Scott case, which stated that Blacks had no rights.  According to the Pew Research Center, “In 2010, Black men were six times as likely as  white men to be incarcerated in federal, state or local jails.”

Wise said that for the past 10 years, about 1.6 million Black people are walking around with criminal records because of the disproportional application of laws against Blacks and other minorities.  Blacks with criminal records cannot get good jobs with  livable wages or  a better education, which keeps benefits, wealth and resources flowing toward the  dominant group.  When you get a chance please read Tim Wise book, Dear White People.

A Reflection on Tim Wise at CCSU

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 1.44.50 PM

By Jackson Rioux

Anti-racism advocator Tim Wise gave a passionate speech at CCSU for nearly two hours at Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred on Dec. 10.

His rhetoric was harsh, inspiring, and at times, even humorous. Perhaps not everyone in attendance agreed with everything Wise said.

Photo from the 2015 Bridging the Gap promo video.

However, you can’t say Wise’s speech wasn’t thought-provoking.

One part of Wise’s discussion that struck a personal note was when Wise brought up Louisiana, and New Orleans.

Louisiana is one of my favorite places to visit. I love the vast variety of cultures, food, and people who inhabit the state.

My favorite player, and New Orleans native, Leonard Fournette.

Most of all, I love watching LSU football. I don’t know how my love for LSU came to be, except that I was a child and playing the latest NCAA Football video game on my PlayStation.

I’ve been to Louisiana twice. Once in 2008, and again in 2012. Both times, I was relatively ignorant to the dominant issues that plagued Louisiana.

David Duke was one Louisianan I had never heard of until Tim Wise spoke of him.

I was astonished.

How could a Neo-Nazi, white nationalist, and former Klansman be allowed to run for Governor of Louisiana in 1991?

Yes, he lost, but the disturbing fact is that six out of 10 white voters voted for him. Wise appropriately points out that Duke, and other politicians base their campaign platform on blaming, “the others.”

In reality, the people of Louisiana, and this country, should be looking at the rigged economic system.

Wise’s Louisiana story comes full circle when he talks about the two communities that were most devastated by Katrina.

These two communities were the Lower Ninth Ward and Chalmette.

The Lower Ninth Ward was 95 percent black while Chalmette was 95 percent white.

Wise describes them as, “Working class areas located right across the street from each other.”

During Duke’s bid for Governor of Louisiana, “70 percent of the residents from Chalmette voted for the racist candidate.” Instead of looking at the “underclass” as the problem, the residents should have looked at the policies instituted by the government.

It would come back to haunt them a mere 14 years later.

The politicians had left the working class citizens out to dry. It didn’t matter what color they were.

Rather than spend money on levees or reform, the government decided it was better suited for other things, such as, in Wise’s words, “Casinos, overpasses for tourists to get to the casinos, and giving the rich tax breaks.”

Had the black and white communities of the Lower Ninth Ward and Chalmette united to look at the area’s real issues, perhaps policies would haver changed.

Wise summed it up best when he said, “Those white folks in Chalmette would have been a hell of a lot better off if they joined hands with the black and brown folks…together they could have marched on Baton Rouge demanding a better deal.”

From right to left: Max, Tim Wise, Myself, Spencer
From right to left: Max, Tim Wise, Myself, Spencer

It’s important that we stop scapegoating and blaming others. It is imperative we work together as human beings. We can no longer hold unwarranted attitudes toward people simply because they do not look like us.

Let the destruction of the Lower Ninth Ward and Chalmette be a cautionary tale.

A Snapchat nation won’t work

black-lives-matter-1By Signe Lambertsen

“Black Lives Matter,” white privilege, income inequality, campus unrest, unemployment rates, drug-related arrests and jail time, are but a few of the topics that guest speaker Tim Wise unfurled at the audience during this year’s CCSU “Bridging the Gap – A Dream Deferred.” The event was the culmination of this past semester where many  CCSU communication classes  focused on (among other things) the above-mentioned topics. Having continuity in the overall subject matter gave us students the opportunity to engage in critical thinking and prolific discussions all across campus.

Wise’s speech lasted over an hour and he then engaged in more than an hour of questions. The time flew by.

Wise began his speech with an admission that, even after his more than 25 years as an activist for racial equality, he, “shows up in these spaces in full recognition that my body fits this aesthetic of being a white, middle-aged male,” often speaking to an audience that is not. “It’s not lost on me that I’m the one standing here. But until we give weight and breathe to a black woman who can say what I am about to, with more validity than I can ever possibly have, we are not free.

Somehow, stating the fact of his “whiteness” allowed us, the audience, to recognize and acknowledge that we also entered this event with our own biases. It seemed to allow us to settle in to his topics without assuming that he was focusing his rhetoric from the point of view of a white male but rather as a well-researched, long-term activist who articulates often difficult subjects nationwide.

Many of his topics revolved around privilege – specifically white privilege. By definition, white privilege is “a set of advantages and/or immunities that white people benefit from on a daily basis beyond those common to all others. White privilege can exist without white people’s conscious knowledge of its presence and it helps to maintain the racial hierarchy in this country.” “The biggest problem with white privilege is the invisibility it maintains to those who benefit from it most. The inability to recognize that many of the advantages whites hold are a direct result of the disadvantages of other people, contributes to the unwillingness of white people, even those who are not overtly racist, to recognize their part in maintaining and benefiting from being white.”

Speaking as a white female and a self-proclaimed anti-racism advocate, I found myself clapping and sometimes cheering as he poignantly wove his rhetoric into a memorable storyline. I took notes of quips that I wanted to look back upon as I continue my own quest of understanding what being “white in the room” means. But over the past few days, as I really started thinking about it, I can’t help but remember how he labeled us “a Snapchat nation, whereby our attention stays focused for about 10 seconds and then is completely forgotten.” That is how we deal with history. Nothing he said is new but, as a white person, I have the privilege to pay attention at will. My goal is to do better than that – for myself, for my children, and for my nation.

Safe in our Matrix bubbles

By Kevin Hayes

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, United States, July 18, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young   - RTX1KTWT

Tim Wise is an anti-racism educator, philosopher, and author of “White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son.” First and foremost, he is one of the most eloquent and powerful speakers I have had the privilege of listening to. Among the topics he touched on was how discrimination was viewed through the eyes of a white person vs. a black person, the recent and on-going backlash against Muslims, the Economy, and even a nice reference to how our lives can be compared to the movie, “The Matrix.”

At CCSU’s Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred event on Dec. 10, Wise touched on the recent “Black Lives Matter” protests that have arisen in recent months in the wake of police shootings against young black men. These demonstrations are the culmination, a “perfect storm,” if you will, of years of police misconduct and racial disparity. For example, when Wise discussed racial profiling among police officers towards minorities, I could sense from many folks in the room that they had experienced this at some point in their lives. Of course, there has been a backlash against the “Black Lives Matter” protests, mostly from white folks. They have responded with their own protests stating “All Lives Matter,” and that there shouldn’t be a disconnect between Black people and the rest of the population. But, as Wise pointed out, the majority of people against the movement have never experienced the level of discrimination or hatred that Black folks have faced.

Wise also mentioned the ongoing mistrust and hatred toward Muslims in the wake of the Paris attacks. This issue has only been antagonized by folks like Donald Trump. He has publicly stated that we should no longer allow Muslims into our country for fear that similar attacks will occur in the U.S. So he is essentially making a grand assumption that all Muslims could potentially be terrorists and therefore, don’t deserve the right to freedom from their persecution and disparity from their war-torn country.

If this isn’t discrimination on a grand scale, I don’t know what is. Wise related this way of thinking to the Civil Rights movement, where the advocates against the movement thought that Blacks were inferior to whites and therefore didn’t deserve the same rights and privileges as they received. Does separate water fountains/bathrooms ring a bell? This kind of rhetoric has no place in our society.

He also touched on how the U.S. Eeonomy is predicated on low wages, and is essentially rigged for the few, against the many. A good example of this is how Walmart profits from the low wages they provide their employees. This company that is worth billions, can’t even pay their employees a living wage. Most employees have to rely on food stamps to subsidize their income. And on top of paying them meager wages, Walmart again gets to profit from their food stamp utilization at the store (12 million a year).

That’s another example of a greedy corporation getting rich off of the suffering of others.

Finally, he made a comparison to how most of us live our lives like the movie, “The Matrix.” We like to stay within our safe “bubbles” in our own lives and fear venturing out of these self-made safety nets out of fear of experiencing and witnessing the true suffering and disparity that many face. This equates to taking the blue pill and going about our daily lives, happily oblivious. He challenges us to have the courage to take the red pill and see what’s really going on in our world. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Volunteer at a soup kitchen; donate clothes to a local thrift shop…it doesn’t take much to make a difference in this world. Truer words were never spoken.


Sign o’ the times

MTE5NTU2MzE2MjgwNDg5NDgzBy Quenton Kloczko

White supremacy and white privilege, class inequity, class warfare, income inequality…what a time to be alive in the U.S.

From the countless cases of racial police misconduct and profiling to the many recent college campus protests across the nation (don’t get me started on how in the world an egomaniac like Donald Trump is successfully running for President while promoting racism and xenophobic rhetoric), it’s an incredibly hazardous time right now, but also a hopeful time to deal with these racial and economic issues that have been afflicting people for decades.

None of these issues are new though. The difference is that white people are being affected,  for a change.

Americans are sick of dealing with an economy bloated with mass unemployment and low wages just so the rich can keep being rich while the middle class disappears. Here’s a gross little fact of the day: Did you know that the wealthiest 1/10th of one percent of Americans own the same amount of wealth as the bottom 90 percent of the population? It’s beyond belief that six people, those of the heirs to the Walmart fortune, have amassed the same fortune as the bottom 40 percent of Americans. That’s the wealth of 6 individuals being equivalent to 127 million people.

More outrageous is the fact when folks lament over the overall economic situation, they point the blame at Black people, Spanish people, and other minorities, and not the powerful elite corporations like Walmart that pay their workers so little  they are thenforced to get SNAP benefits that we as taxpayers  ultimately  pay for. This is the world we live in, where implicit bias is becoming explicit. There are many ugly truths in this economy that have nothing to do with minorities, but everything to do with  mega institutions that profit off those below.

In this state, what can one single person do in an era of faceless titan conglomerates and rampant racial inequalities? Let us take solace in the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny…Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly…Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny.”

We unite and keep going, voicing our dissent at whatever latest peril is thrust upon us. We are already heard and it’s only a matter of time when the many overtake the privileged few. There will be a time when we can stop discussing these national problems plaguing our people, that of the mass inequality going on. There will be a time when a person of color, a woman of color, and a queer woman of color can have this conversation with the same amount of respect that I receive.

The whiteness system of thought

By Jesmarie Disdiel

wagegapbrokenupbyrace-011Race and wealth and income inequality go hand in hand. People discuss how minorities get the short end of the stick; that they don’t get far because the system has been set up that way. There are also all the stereotypes that follow minorities, for example that African-Americans and Mexicans are lazy, or,they take all the low-wage jobs. We consistently hear that it is poor people that are bringing down the economy, that it is their entire fault. What about white people? Do they have  no fault in how the economy is today?

Tim Wise put it as the “Whiteness System of Thought.” White people, and this is a generalization, are somewhat willfully ignorant to what is going on around them. Many of them believe that it is minorities causing  problems in the economy, but that is not true. The “problem is economy predicated on low wages,”  said Wise at CCSU’s Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred event on Dec. 10. Rich companies give low wages to employees who are then forced to rely on SNAP, funded by taxes. It is a never-ending cycle, and it is those (primarily white) CEOs who allow  it to continue.

White people are ignorant to the facts and history that African-Americans know all too well. African-Americans understand the system, while white people may not. The system sets up minorities to fail and for white people to succeed. There is no such thing as actual “privilege.” It is a made-up notion that white people, or the majority of a culture, have more claim to anything than those they deem below them. They believe they deserve better because they “are better”.

However, there exists both true ignorance and willful ignorance, which is choosing to ignore what is going on in the world. All the facts and information can be laid right out in front of someone, but they can still choose to ignore because it is better to ignore the ugly than to acknowledge it. For example, it is a fact that White people commit more crimes a year than African-Americans. The numbers exist. Yet, instead of believing the numbers or doing their own research, White people make the assumption that it is only minorities who commit crimes, and since this is all that is reported in the news, a racial bias and stereotype is created. If more White people were sent to prison and more reports of White crime were released, maybe people would begin to fear White people more than minorities.

It is everyone’s responsibility to self-educate and learn the truth of what is going on in the world. Following and believing in the system and trusting that what they see in the media is true, just creates ignorance. Staying neutral brings you down the same old beaten path, not inspiring any new thought or revelation. No one race is responsible for wealth and income inequality, but a whole government or system can be. That’s truth.

To find ourselves

By Jalen Manzie

imgres-3Are you the type of person who takes action when you notice injustice taking place? Or do you like to talk about injustice, but don’t care about how other people survive as long as you are good?

Americans  know about income inequality and choose to brush the uncomfortable feeling to the side because it does not directly affect them due to the color of their skin. A big part of why so many Americans are living under these terrible conditions is because 1 percent of the population who just happen to be white earn the majority of the nation’s income.

That is only part of the problem. In addition,  billionaires are not recycling  money to the rest of the population. Instead, they make sure the money finds its way back into their pockets, thus ensuring future success for their families.

Income is the amount of money you earn on a yearly basis after taxes while wealth is  your assets that are able to increase in value over time. If you don’t have a steady income, then it would be harder for you to purchase things such as a house or to make stock investments.

People of color are being held behind  by the progressive and regressive taxes that play a  role in a family’s income. For some families, their taxes increase when the payer’s income increases, which basically a good way to keep one’s lifestyle stagnant. The more you earn, the greater percentage of taxes are taken out. On the other hand, a regressive tax actually increases as the individuals income decreases which in fact makes them move backward financially.

These situations have a way of reoccurring for those living under the poverty line who seem to never catch a break. It is one thing to be poor and Caucasian, but it is another to be a person of color, and broke because people would think twice about helping someone of color before helping a white man. Things are even harder for women, especially women of color. Knowing that women make up half of our work force and are only paid 79 cents for every dollar earned by a man is degrading and disrespectful.

I always hear people talking about how amazing America is and how it is the land of the free and home of the brave when in reality we are slaves to the government and corporations running our nation. We don’t do anything but sit back and accept what is given to us as long as we are earning enough money to keep the lights on and food on the table. There is always talk on how to make the world a better place and ending poverty for good, but I believe that if we want to find the true essence of what it is like to be free and have equal rights for people deserving of it, we must find ourselves first.