Category Archives: Race

A Reflection on Tim Wise at CCSU

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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.

Who’s got the power?

Walmart Spending CycleBy Josh Kimball

It’s funny, because when someone tells you they have been struggling with racism for a long time, you automatically assume that person is someone of color.

Having a white man struggle with racism is downright laughable and that laughable man fighting the tyranny of racism is Tim Wise. This brings into mind the “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” where King discusses his disgust with complacency. King makes it clear there will never be a right time to seek change, that it will always be an inconvenient time. Wise is an example of someone who is not complacent, where millions of Americans – including myself –

find it convenient to just say let’s just wait, things are getting better.

Either you are on the side of justice or not- no neutrality.

Whites fighting for blacks and men fighting for women, this is the only equation for success. Ridding our country of racism will not happen without ridding our country of discrimination in general, that includes discrimination of women. There is a point in everyone’s life where they just can’t take anymore, be that criticism, abuse, discrimination, or serving at the lower end of the pay scale. Everyone knows there is a problem, but no one wants to do anything about it, or if they do, they do not have the tools to go about it.

Wise is white, but he has gained credibility on something that some say he has no right speaking about. This idea of implicit bias is something that every single American citizen struggles with every single day, and it’s not our fault. We have been programmed like R2D2, except our programmer was racism, and unlike most robots we do not realize we are robots. We either choose to act on, but the more we educate people on these embedded flaws the better off we will be.

It’s no secret that the wealthy in our country abuse their powers, yet nothing happens. The majority of Americans agree that things need to change on a political level, yet nothing happens. I discussed lobbyists in an earlier blog and how important limiting their role within the political process would be. There are a lot of people who don’t know what a lobbyist is and or what they do. People complain that policies do not benefit them or anyone else. The sad thing is they are benefiting someone. The people who are benefiting are powerful corporations that had lobbyists inject a bunch of money into political campaigns. Not only do zoning laws separate the wealthy from the poor, so do the amount of opportunities afforded to whites, I mean the wealthy.

Wise brought to the surface the ugly history of white privilege and opportunity. He pointed out the systematic inequalities brought forth by the U.S government that limited the economic well-being of minorities over generations. Many minorities cannot earn a living wage in this country due to decades of limited opportunities still present today. This living wage means enough money to maintain a normal standard of living. As Wise pointed out, Walmart is the biggest redeemer of food stamps for their own employees. Think about that for a second. This means that the company is paying so many of their employees so little that the majority of them are still on government aide. Where are all of Walmart’s profits going, you ask? Six Walton (owners of walmart) heirs have the same collective wealth as 127 million Americans. The Walton family has more combined wealth than the combined wealth of 42 percent of American families. The Waltons have more wealth than almost half of our country. Guess who spends a lot of money swaying politicians?

Does it Matter?

I wrote this keeping in mind all of the recent locations and people we have met that are champions and heroes that are leading the battles our communities are facing each and every day.

 

Does it Matter?child homeless

Does it matter that mothers are afraid to send their children out to play?

Does it matter we treat another shooting as just another day?

Does it matter that we turn our heads away

As someone is being beaten or stolen away?

Does it matter whether we know them or care enough

To draw attention when others are being too rough?

 

A homeless man sits covered in snow early on March 25, 2013 in Washington, DC. A messy Monday is in store for millions along the East Coast, with winter weather advisories warning of a mixture of snow and rain for Washington, DC, Philadelphia, metropolitan New York and parts of northeast New Jersey. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

Does it matter that the cold weather will be blowing in soon,

And some people are trying to figure out which underpass to call home?

Does it matter that these people try their best not to steal,

But can’t figure out another way to get their child a meal?

Does it matter that these same children, with parents trying their best,

Are expected to study, stay focused, and especially pass the test?

 

Homeless_2_-_Rosie_O'Beirne

Does it matter that the guy who sits in the alley

You know the one – he makes weird noises and calls you “Pally”

Tonight starts the weekend and everything’s closed

So he’ll make his way to the emergency room ‘cause it’s all he knows.

His demons chase him all day and all night

He’s lonely, he’s afraid, and by the way, he’s losing his sight.

 

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Does it matter that there are people out there

Who just want to help … they really do care?

Does it matter that money and funding of programs to help

All too often gets shuffled or stuck in “red tape?”

It’s no longer time to sit back and get angry,

Find it in yourself to ask, “Does it matter?”

 

By Signe Lambertsen

Take a Test on Assessing Others

RacialDifferences

Take a Test …

How quickly do you think you judge someone by their outward appearance? Is your reaction based on what they are wearing, where or how they are standing, or a particular facial expression? Actually, it is human nature to assess the people with whom we interact, allowing us to instantly read the faces and body language of others. But how often do we recognize how biased our opinions are based on another’s skin color, eye shape, nose structure, and other external characteristics?

racial_IATThere are many online modules that test one’s reaction to rapid visual snapshots of close-up photos depicting individual’s faces (eyes/nose/mouth only). Understanding how positive and negative reactions toward photos that depict various races, genders, and cultures give researchers statistics that shed light on how we form snap judgments of others.  According to a recent study by researchers at New York University, “Our findings suggest that the brain automatically responds to a face’s trustworthiness before it is even consciously perceived. The researchers focused on the workings of the brain’s amygdala, a structure that is important for humans’ social and emotional behavior. There is now clear evidence that the amygdala processes social cues in the absence of awareness that is more extensive than previously understood.”

Participating in this type of test may provide individuals insight into how they interact toward one another. Recognizing and addressing our biases opens us to engaging in courageous conversations about race and equity in our world.

By Signe Lambertsen