I just came across a pretty fascinating article excerpt from The Sun Magazine today. It includes an interview with Tim Wise, a white anti-racist activist and writer who often uses his own experiences as “a priveleged white male” to highlight racism in the U.S. If you have a minute, take a look at the excerpt […]
I just came across a pretty fascinating article excerpt from The Sun Magazine today. It includes an interview with Tim Wise, a white anti-racist activist and writer who often uses his own experiences as “a priveleged white male” to highlight racism in the U.S.
If you have a minute, take a look at the excerpt – the full article is only published in their print magazine, but what you can read on the site raises some interesting questions.
Here are a few examples of what Wise has to say…
One what it means to be racist:
There are two different types of racists. First there are the overt racists: the neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and white supremacists. Then there are the ones we might consider “passive” racists. In a society like ours, where racism is so prevalent, the vast majority of us — maybe all of us — silently collaborate with systemic racism. We don’t consciously believe in racial superiority or inferiority, but we’ve become so used to the existing policies, practices, and procedures that we don’t question them. To the extent that we don’t challenge this system of racism, we are collaborating with it.
I think the second type of racist is actually more dangerous. The first type we can easily recognize, and it doesn’t take much courage to condemn them. The second type is like an invisible gas: you don’t know it’s there until you’ve been lulled unconscious by it.
On examples of white privilege:
White privilege is any advantage, head start, or protection the system grants whites but not people of color. It’s the flip side of discrimination. If people of color are victims of housing discrimination 3 million times a year — and that’s a safe estimate — then that’s 3 million more opportunities for housing that whites have. If people of color are discriminated against in employment, then that’s more employment opportunities for whites. The flip side of disadvantage is advantage. You can’t have a down without an up.
On white Americans denying existence of privilege:
What is so disturbing to me about white denial is that we are denying the reality of other people’s experiences. We are saying to people of color that what they think they experience is not what they actually experience. It’s true that not every allegation of racism is well-founded. People can make mistakes of interpretation, and none of us is a perfect chronicler of his or her life. But white deniers are saying that people of color are hypersensitive, that they overreact and “play the race card.”
Read more here. Discuss below. I think this is a conversation to which most Richmonders can contribute.