Tag Archives: Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred

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.

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.

You don’t know what you don’t know

Federal-Minimum-WageBy Jessica Vezina

“Just admit that you do not know what you do not know, and then listen to the ones who have had to know it all their lives just so they don’t die.” These words of Tim Wise stuck out to me Thursday at the Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred event, because it is all too true about the way income inequality, homelessness and poverty is handled in America.

White men in D.C. are trying to fix situations  they  know nothing about.  Wise said that you don’t know anything you haven’t taken a class on. White men will never know anything about racism because they have never had to deal with it. Politicians will never know anything about poverty because chances are they have never had to live through it.

If you talk to a politician about how to end income equality, and compare it to those who get the crap end of the stick of income equality, chances are they will be vastly different.

Presidential front-runner Bernie Sanders had a long list of how he’s going to end income inequality. After reading them all, it appears that he wants to just throw money at the issue. He wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, or invest $5.5 billion into youth job problems, or make tuition free at public universities throughout America.

While all of these changes sound  nice, where is he going to get this money? And how is he going to ensure that the one’s suffering from income inequality are going to be the ones benefitting from these changes?

Wise talked about how 160,000 African Americans are arrested yearly on drug charges that are strictly enforced in African American communities, while there are 160,000 white people in America who are not arrested on drug charges when they should.

When going for these pretty new jobs that pay $15, do you  think employers are going to give it to the one with a record over the one without one? Because an increase in minimum wage means that employers can now be even pickier on whom they hire. They are getting one for the price of two, so whomever they hire better be damn good.

Which adds to the downward spiral of income inequality, because those who grow up in better communities, with better career resources and more privileges, will have the better resume and interviewing skills over the less fortunate person.

I doubt that the politicians intentionally meant for income inequality to get this out of hand, but thinking that they have the knowledge to fix it is just unimaginable to me. One piece of advice I’m sure Tim Wise would give them is to listen to those who took the class, because they truly know what needs to be done.

 

 

We have to talk about white privilege

tim-wiseBy Nicholas Evangelista

One of the major leaders of the anti-racism movement is a privileged, white male.

Let the irony of that statement sink it.

But it is true. Tim Wise is an author of the book White Like Me, and is a well-known activist who has had countless appearances on television. And at CCSU’s Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred event on Dec. 10, he made some great points that really stuck out to me.

  1. The very fact that he is a leader for this movement is ironic.

Even he knows that this is not how it should be. As paraphrased from his speech:

It is still easier for Universities to get me to come here and talk about these issues. We must continue to have these talks until a woman of color, for instance, could stand at this podium and say these things and more, and be taken every bit as serious as I am going to be.”

This is an important point. Why is it that a white male like Wise should be the leader in this? Of course, it is good for someone like him to be able to come out and admit that he has privilege. I am a white male, too and I am every bit as privileged as he is. But me coming out and admitting that does not solve the problem alone.

The truth is, we need to take the issues seriously. We need to stop pretending the issues don’t exist. People are talking to us, but we need to learn to listen.

  1. Race and poverty are tied together.

This is an obvious statement, but one that needs to be said again and again and again. We live in a system that abuses people and impoverishes people so that the rich can get richer. Race almost is less of the reason, and more of a result. The truth is, people of all races and ethnicities are suffering. Right?

Not exactly. While it is true that not all white people are wealthy and successful, there are still major disproportionalities between white and colored people. Being white means that statistically speaking, I am more likely to have a better education, more likely to have better jobs, and therefore more likely to make a good living. Even if that does not mean that it is true for everyone, it is still overwhelmingly true statistically speaking. Not only that, but African American men are significantly more likely to go to prison, and to serve longer sentences, even though they do not commit crimes at any worse rate than that of white people.

These disproportionalities are due to a structural system that is designed to keep certain types of people in place so that other types of people can stay in power. The simple fact is, white people start at an advantage, so it is no surprise that that is where we tend to finish.

  1. Having privilege does not make you a bad person, but it is to not abuse it that makes the difference.

Being white does not make someone a villain. Privilege simply means that you benefit from the system that you are born into. This is purely by chance–you do not choose where you are born. You have no say in your ethnicity, gender, or social class at birth. But by using your privilege to gain upward mobility, or even to stay at the top, could make you a perpetrator of the system.

Wise used an analogy of moving floors in an airport to explain privilege:

“Those moving floors are the advantage you get, and even by doing nothing you still move forward. We need to stop, and step backward. Only by moving backwards can we head towards equality.”

This is a difficult step for many people. Admitting and accepting that being indifferent is not good enough can be difficult. After all, we all just want a good life, and to be able to take care of our family. If it were right there in front of us, why wouldn’t we take it?

But that is what compassion is about. It means not taking for yourself when you can see others who are in need. It means that even though you are in a position of power, you choose to help those who are below you, and to think of them first.

And this is especially hard to do when we are all so separated from one another. This was the last major point that Wise made, which impacted me. White men–myself included–do not know enough about other people’s lives. We do not see what they see. We are, for all intents and purposes, blind to it. The action we need to take is to see. We need to open our eyes and see the abuse and turmoil that many people live through because of no fault of their own. This is what racial inequity is. It is a system that is rigged so that certain people win, and others lose for no reason other than how they were born.

And it would be truly despicable to stand idly by and let this continue.

A Snapchat Nation

imagesBy Jibreel Mahmud

We are becoming a second-to-second collective in this country. What I mean is that day-by-day we are becoming a more technologically oriented nation. We have access to information all around the world in a microsecond. We have become accustomed to coverage of events, entertainment, etc. to be delivered to our eyeballs within the moment we want it.

The rise of social media such as Vine and Snapchat have whittled our conversations down to 6 and 10 second pictures and video clips. In the case of Snapchat, once you view a colorful photo or “story” a friend it is gone after that initial viewing.

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, our collective attention span as of 2015 is less than that of a goldfish.

The rise of technology and social media is a factor in this staggering decrease in attention span. This is a fine example of Technological Determinism. Where the technology of one society shapes the culture at large. Speaking for myself, in the last few years I have been using my phone much more frequently than I ever have before.

I have noticed decreased dedication ability when focusing on one task. Watching a movie on my phone that I’ve been eager to watch is dashed by the desire to check Facebook, or text a girl I’ve been talking to.

Even writing this blog is delayed by invasive thoughts of doing something else. With access to ongoing issues all over the world it is difficult to dedicate ourselves mentally or emotionally to one thing for a long period of time.

Tragedies that have occurred in recent years, whether they be school shootings or any recent terrorist attacks, have faded from the public who at the height of the hysteria were gung ho for systematic change have died down and the collective pain we felt has faded. Nothing registers or permeates as vividly as it down about 15 years ago.

At CCSU’s Bridging the Gap: A Dream Deferred event on Dec. 10, educator Tim Wise brought up many excellent points relating to the title of this blog. He discussed that in history class we are given a glimpse of the horrific treatment of Blacks during their time as slaves during the civil rights movement of the 1960s but we are not always shown to us in school due to the shame our country felt.

Like Snapchat, we are given something and due to our decreased attention spans we see it and it’s gone forever never seen again. It almost never goes further than the classroom discussion. I can speak to this because in the majority of my history classes once I learned something for a test it was gone. Only now have I begun re learning what I thought was dull and unnecessary.  With this decrease in our attention spans I have to ask can we learn from our mistakes if we can’t remember them? I suppose it’s just as Mr. Wise said, we are living in a “Snapchat Nation.”