Tag Archives: Tim Wise

….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?

Xoxo,

Your friendly neighborhood white kid living in Snapchat Nation

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.

 

We choose not to give up

By Krystal Copeland

It’s the responsibility of those who know the truth to educate and teach those that don’t. If it wasn’t for Tim Wise, how engaged would everyone from all backgrounds be to listen to someone speak about racism? It’s fascinating to hear a white man be an advocate for minorities. Not only is he a great speaker but he offers something out of the ordinary that grabs folks attention.

We see how history repeats itself, so it’s really hard to expect change. And  Wise touched on how we could expect change, but it must involve the assistance of those who are privileged and those of European descent known as white folks.

There are white people who are programed to think a certain way. And they come from decent living conditions and nonetheless grow up being a member of the dominant group. So as a result, they don’t have to think about or even be aware of some important stuff.

So if growth involves change and change involves letting go, then how can we build off that? As we’ve been taught throughout this whole semester and have heard Wise discuss, growth can be messy. Changing people’s viewpoints and getting folks out of their comfort zone can be extremely hard.

As with the Black Lives Matter movement, the fact that you have white people out there protesting with blacks proves  we can unite as one. We all are human beings and race is what disconnects us and wealth is what classifies us. We can’t afford to waste any more time being a divided nation.

The bigger problem is wealth and income inequality. Allowing companies like Walmart to pay workers pocket change while the Walton family makes infinity times their workers is just plain disrespectful. As Wise said “the economy is predicated on low wages.” The problem is not the Mexicans or blacks are taking  jobs; it’s the greed of these CEOs.

We have to challenge these people in power. 

We’ve learned that there’s a balance when people earn low incomes because those are the ones who help support the economy. Just think if we all were wealthy there’s the possibility of an unbalanced economy. But my question is why should people have to live in poverty and why can’t we all be equally educated. I believe the fair thing to do is to give everyone equal opportunity and not to be judged based on your skin color or lack of education.

We can’t keep allowing racism to continue. And we can’t allow those in power to keep manipulating are minds. We will continue to be a “Snap Chat” nation as  Wise calls it if we don’t put an end to what’s holding us back. Poverty doesn’t have to exist. That’s why it’s up to us come together as one and fight for change. And we can’t give up.

 

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.”