Tag 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?

Is There a New King in Town?

On April 16, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the Letter from Birmingham Jail in the margins of the daily newspaper while sitting in prison. In the letter he discusses how there must be direct non-violent action to confront unjust laws.

Fast-forward to the current year 2015, where an African American President is currently leading the nation. One could be under the belief that racism and unequal treatment ended long ago with Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wrong.

On October 26, 2015, my communication class was graced with the presence of Bishop John Selders. Selders, a musician as well as a third-generation preacher, realized that a silent approach in politics could not accomplish change on a larger political scale. This realization came at the means of great loss. On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed African American, was shot by a white officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

The compassion and energy Bishop Selders expressed over equal rights and the passion in support of the Black Lives Matter movement was explosive. Bishop Sanders, like Martin Luther King Jr., would prepare his team for non-violence action protests. Here was a man willing to shut down streets, get arrested, make a stand, and speak out because of unjust treatment of African Americans.

If interested, please refer to their website- moralmondayct.wordpress.com

One thing that I found particularly interesting was Bishop Sanders reference to dog whistle politics. Dog whistle politics are when individuals or groups support in silence. They are typically afraid to confront mainstream views, even if they believe them to be wrong. Similarly, to Martin Luther King Jr. who believed that staying silence is as bad as committing the act itself.

If you haven’t read about or seen Bishop John Selders, that may change quickly because he has the integrity to make a difference.

 

Olivia C. Granja

“A Mutual Acquaintance of Many: Inequality” by Farrah Fontano

Recently I watched a documentary in my Writing for Electronic Media class. Following the topic of Income Inequality through the prism of race, because what’s a better way to make people uncomfortable than talking about race? In the documentary we follow former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich on his quest to determine when this inequality becomes a problem. He poses three major questions having to do with the distribution of wealth: 1. What is happening? 2. Why? 3. Is it a problem?

One thing that he said really hit home for me and that is that 42% of children born into poverty will not get out. So this means that two people decided to have a child and NOT take their financial situation, or basically anything into account, and essentially made a conscious decision to screw their OWN child for the rest of its life. What if that child that will live in poverty for the rest of its life has the cure to cancer in its brain? It will never come out because that kid will never have a chance to get a higher education or honestly flourish inside the public school system. This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.Jackie-Chan-WTF

Welcome to the Wealth/Income Inequality Blog

IMG_3393On this blog, you can read the work of some incredible CCSU students who are spending the fall of 2015 studying the causes and effects of wealth and income inequality through the prism of race.

Ferguson. North Charleston. Baltimore. None of those places just happened, and none of those places are all that different from New Britain, except perhaps in size.

We hope you learn from our blog. We hope you come back again and again. Mostly, we hope to get a conversation going.

And we hope you’ll consider attending our Bridging the Gap event on Dec. 10, where we’ll have food, activities, and displays of students’ work from the semester, as well as Tim Wise as our keynote speaker.

You can find out more about last year’s event here.

Photo by Spenser Sedorey