By Nicolette Johnston
Tim Wise is an activist addressing the issues of race and inequality in the United States. His experiences with race started early on, as his parents decided he would attended primary school in which most of his classmates and teachers were people of color.
He was able to realize that although as an individual he did not judge others according to their race, that he had reaped many benefits as a child growing up with white privileges.
He is a strong believer that if we are ever going to address racial issues in our country, we must first accept the idea that those who are “white” often experience advantages due to their race at the expense of others who may be “brown” or “black.”
Even with an African American President, there is still a racial divide
There is no doubt that the United States has come a long way from the racial segregation and discrimination in the past, but it still does exist. Tim Wise explains a phenomena called “white privilege.” As a person of color, one would see its affects multiple times a day. However, those who are white have the privilege of ignoring racial issues. Since these issues do not seem to pertain to them, they tend not to acknowledge them. Further, since they benefit from being white, they may not even see the issues in which those of color face on a daily basis.
Tim Wise explains that if you haven’t had enough personal interaction with black people in order to understand this question one woman asked him, then you are not mature enough to partake in the conversation.
SAD… BUT TRUE.
If he reviews the facts, Wise explains that black Americans are four times more likely to be arrested for drug related offenses such as possession of marijuana. Further, that they are five to nine times more likely to be incarcerated for it.
Wise blames these results on the disproportionate implication of drug laws. As more young men acquire records for drug- related offenses and felonies, it makes it harder for them to do the things that those with white privilege have an easier time doing. It takes an effect on their ability to find jobs and housing and to take part in voting. The proclaimed war on drugs has managed to take down entire communities that have high concentrations of colored families while other “white” communities experience the same type of drug- related issues.
This is the type of SCAPEGOATING that our country is inclined to practice. If we blame others for problems that they didn’t even create, we no longer have to deal with the real issues at hand. Wise finds the inconsistency astounding, as those who are “white” continue to make excuses for the problems they face in our country. For instance, “black people have taken all the jobs.” Yet, “black people are lazy and never want to work.” It makes no sense, but still seems to be a popular opinion of many in the country who just don’t understand their white privilege.
So, where is the EQUALITY?
The United States is a country in which African Americans age 22-27 are 2.25% more like to be out of work. Further, a typical white household headed by a dropout has TWO TIMES the net worth of a household headed by a black graduate.
Racial discrimination and segregation has not disappeared. We cannot be colorblind because in order to fix the issues we face we must be able to see color as well as the advantages and disadvantages that accompany race. Tim Wise explains that although this is a dangerous time, it is also a promising moment to deal with injustices. Only then can we experience a nation in which EVERY HUMAN BEING is considered an EQUAL.
SEE FOR YOURSELF!
WATCH TIM WISE’S DOCUMENTARY “WHITE LIKE ME”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NynTIaCM988