Monday, February 08, 2010

Tim Wise – Most Hated White Man in America

A few nights ago, I was invited to hear Tim Wise speak here in Oakland. For those who do not know him, the Nashville-born author/speaker is perhaps the most vociferous anti-racist you may ever get to hear. He has written numerous books on the subject of White privilege, and has more to say on the subject than I could ever do justice in a posting. Nevertheless, I offer up my summary of a man who undoubtedly competes with Morris Dees, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, for the title of ‘most hated White man in America’.

Why is he so hate-worthy? Well, like Dee’s, Wise has lost his mind, and his whiteness, when it comes to what he sees as unequal justice toward Blacks in America. His overarching platform is a willingness to speak openly about White America’s racist past and present dealings, akin to a White Nashville preacher who suddenly woke up Black. In fact, one of his books is titled, White Like Me. Like Dees, and the most recent President Jimmy Carter, a southern White man speaking openly about race carries heightened credibility with Black folks, inasmuch as he can be characterized as, ‘a White boy tellin’ all they business!’

I will first clarify that I am not 100% aligned with his argument on the White-man’s recent history of exploiting people of color. Nevertheless, his delivery of facts sure beats the hell out of whoever would call him a liar. Unfortunately, he makes the grave mistake of many before him, with shallow analysis of the plight of Blacks limited to the last 400 years of White dominance, against thousands of prior years of development. This limitation allows Whites and others to easily turn a deaf ear to him. In ignoring earlier times of human history and evolution, including that of race itself, he lessens his power and influence, except for the people in his 'choir', mostly Blacks and guilt-sensitive Whites. To the contrary, and aided by many external factors over a much greater time period, Whites and Blacks are complicit in the race dynamic and plights we reflect today. In any event, I agree with Mr. Wise that talking about race is the only way for things to get better. I would simply lengthen the period of review to 5,000 years.

This leads to my second mention. Wise is on the money when he criticizes Obama for being race-neutral. He postulates that in order to get elected Obama had to be palatable to a large number of racist Whites – I assume he means ‘soft’ racists - who were willing to vote for an exceptional Black man, the same way they have one Black friend as proof they are not racist. However – and I throw in my own Amen – a President who continually ducks racism, under the cover of political expedience, is actually doing great harm to any long-term goal of uniting disparate people. Wise offers that Obama, by example of his refusal to recognize racism, thrown at his presidency, Harry Reid-style, is pushing it into the closet and closing the door.

Even with the shortcomings of his macro-lens view on America, Wise is a strong and intelligent voice for bringing race discussions to the foreground. Some will like him, others will hate him, but you will know where he stands. My greatest concern with his presentation is that it implicitly encourages Whites to feel guilty and Blacks to feel like victims – not a recipe for success. In doing this he ignores duality. Balance is lost, as he does not challenge Blacks, or validate Whites. His words aptly encourage people to confront the ‘system’ of White privilege, but he hardly pushes on Blacks to embrace advancing avenues before them, rather than simply pointing out White obstruction. This makes him the flip-side of his accusation of Obama’s mono-focus on self-responsibility and the White majority. Wise desperately seeks/protects a palatable status with Black America, which limits what he is willing to say. In his world, Black salvation is forever dependent on White redemption – the status quo solution too concerned with the souls of White folk, quite biased, and quite impossible.

James C. Collier


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Clif Soulo said...

great post! in terms of your critique of Tim Wise, I feel you. I'd only say that when it comes to challenging blacks, white people especially walk a fine line with that one. Even if they are speaking some truth, it would be a very tough message to convey.

Constructive Feedback said...

Brother Collier:

I could stop right there but then I would be too much like some of the rock throwers who don't care to explain themselves after attacking someone.

Black people have an insatiable appetite for "WE KNOW WHO DID THIS TO US. YOU OWE US".

Tim Wise is merely a WHITE chef at the "All You Can Eat Collard Greens, Chicken and Fried Okra Buffet" that feeds this spirt.

The way you expose Tim Wise and and others who preach his message is to ask TWO SIMPLE QUESTIONS:

1) Please describe the day when White people will put down their defenses of their own genetic propagation on this Earth and extend 100% EQUALITY to those who are genetic threats to them?

The Answer: Never



Tim Wise's job is to get WHITE FOLKS TO CHANGE!!!! He talks to BLACK PEOPLE about how Whites need to change.

Ironically he is the inverse of those who I crticize for TALKING to people who bother to care about what other people think of them but who fail to find a message for people WHO DON'T GIVE A DAMN WHAT HE THINKS and who are NOT TRYING TO LIVE UP TO HIS STANDARDS.

Tim Wise's message is about as worthy as someone training African lions to respect the rights of the zebra to exist without the daily threat of being eaten. IF you ever do achieve this end you will have PERVERTED NATURE. From this a perverted system of over-arching oppression and control will be rendered.

I hold the same contempt for Wise as I do Cornel West and other THEORISTS. They empower themselves by standing on the moral high ground. It is up to the rest of us to deal with the intricate details of how to bring any of this theory into fruition.

I choose to focus more on building up the competencies of our own people and a community than I do to bring forth the vision of Tim Wise.

Anonymous said...

Well, if we go back far enogh in history, we find that all of us are Black, so that is where all of our problems came from. I think Africans invented slavery. So....?

Sock Puppet Theater

ogunsiron said...

constructive feedback :
I hear you about that clown Cornel West. Since I was a child I've been hearing and reading about the (real)victimisation of blacks at the hands of various nonblacks. So I've heard about it. Yes I know about it. I've known about it for a while. Nothing new. Nothing much to see . I'd rather get into conversations about how to do something about black weakness. I'm not terribly interested in us staying weak and pathetic while making nonblacks feel ashamed of being powerful and somewhat in control of their destinies.

Plane Ideas said...

White folks invented constructs like victimhood it allows then to deflect and pivot away from thier white racism..

Black folks like Collier ( A Black Apologist) cling to nonsense like duality and victimhood as such it validates them in the eyes of white folks..

Wise market is white folks not Black people..The Black folks who are offended by Wise are the Black wounded types like Collier who resent attacks on white folks Black apologists curry white folks for affirmation Wise gets in the way..

West is a genius and as such this upsets low self esteem Black apologists types like Collier who resent Black males with egos and powerful presence..

ogunsiron said...

you sound like one of those very confident and powerfully present black males. You are, right ?
It's too bad that's all you are. Some of us like a little bit of intellectual fortitude backing up the verbiage.
What brain dead low IQ but confident idiots like you don't get is this :
I`m not sure for Mr Collier but for myself it has nothing to do with apologising for anything. We just have higher standards than the rock bottom ones you have. We just value true intelligence while you can't even recognize it when you see it(because of your low IQ).

You see, I am black too and i *resent* being possibly confused with dumb, veeery confident cretins like you.

I guess I shouldn't call Cornel West a cretin, but whatever I've heard of him tells me that he's a man of merely above average intelligence but nothing more than that. I admit i might be wrong about that but this is my assessment so far.

Because dumb, very confident blacks like you and your white "allies" have very very low standards for black folks, you think someone like cornel west is a genius.

ronnie brown said...

holding white people accountable for their racial phobias and imploring Black folk to not let the history of our victimization at their hands be a paralyzing force are not mutually exclusive...Whether Mr. Wise is qualified to BOTH is a subject is worthy of debate. Our primary stumbling block as Black folk seems to be that waiting for white people to "repent" has us stuck in neutral...there is a possibility that white people as a collective may never repent...and we will be forced to go on our way despite the obstacle...kinda like we know that the air is polluted on some days...but do we stop breathing until the air clears?

Anonymous said...

I used to be concerned about the plight of blacks in the USA / Europe until I began to read about the slave trade amongst Africans themselves. The cruelties visited upon blacks by other blacks exceeds that done by whites, and is also continuing. Worse, when was the last time you heard about a major fund-raising effort by blacks to aid the millions of victims of African wars, such as the hellish war in the DRC? Or even a drive to raise awareness of that war?
In my opinion the real calamity lies ahead for the African people. Within 50 years the Asian powers will be actively colonizing Africa. The resistance to this will not come from Africans; they will have been decimated by bio-warfare. I cannot see how an Asian juggernaut could be defeated.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I'd call wise the most hated man in America. I'm not even sure if most people even know who he is.

Barbara said...

1) Tim Wise is available to introduce people to his way of thinking for a broadening of the mind. I don't think he is particularly speaking for / to blacks, but to white folks that are questioning the "America right or wrong" mindset. I think healthy doses of Wise, Chomsky, and Zinn are in order for white folks interested in learning a different perspective. It's not about guilt (or victimhood). Is there white privilage? Sure. If people are willing to accept it, perhaps they can do something in their little corner of the world about it. NOT because people of color are waiting for a savior, but for their OWN benefit.

2) We don't need any more discussion about where we are. We need to DO something about where we are. We need to connect to youngsters and teach them that they can do anything, show them that education is worth the effort, show them that they have value beyond their reproductive parts. Most importantly, we have to show / lead by example.

3) Ad hominum attacks on commenters because they don't agree with you is pointless and makes you look as bad as the commenter you're putting on blast.

I like Tim Wise, and I enjoy forwarding his writings to my white friends, the ones that I think are receptive to the message. I'm not looking for guilt, nor do I feel like a victim. I just like to share different perspectives with people as yet unfamiliar with them.

I can't for the life of me imagine how delving into 5,000 years of history can impact the current discussion re U.S. citizens, white, black or other, to explain the current racial situation. For every story about african slavery, there's another of european colonization or history revision.

Anonymous said...

"It's not about guilt (or victimhood). Is there white privilage? Sure. If people are willing to accept it, perhaps they can do something in their little corner of the world about it. NOT because people of color are waiting for a savior, but for their OWN benefit."

How would you go about convincing people to give up a privilage in an age when so many are competing for so little?

John said...

I have always liked Tim Wise because I think he says a lot of things that need to be heard in this country. I don't agree "100%"
but I think he is right on about how minorites and whites interact.

He gets it that this is a "multi-cultural society". Our diffrences should be dealt with in a honest and frank discussion. I think that is good thing in the long run.

boomer babe said...

This is just a guess BUT intergration happened BEFORE desegregation was able to take charge first--that may be the reason why blacks think that having an education meant you were 'acting white' no other group had to put up with this nonsense has to go because you need an education today to survive and males of ALL COLORS are not going to college--they may want the woman to support them financially--construction jobs are DYING

boomer babe said...

OOPS i meant integration happened before desegrtgatoni

Mary said...

I think these people are just insecure. We all know that there are lots of people that are not white and they excel in their chosen fields. Also many whites wanted to have a tan skin. Not only because you will look good if you have a tan skin or even darken but it is one sign that you're healthy. remember, sunlight is the rich source of vitamin d that is what we really need to stay healthy.

Anonymous said...

i cant believe this,an entire post filled with self hating whites.i am amazed.i didnt think a post could be filled with self hating tim god!and you call tyhe entire white race ignorant.and that only whites ruled over the entire world for thousands of years as timmy wise said?moron haven post for the fallowers of the tim wise movement.....i mean tim wise bowl movement.

Anonymous said...

People such as Wise get away with re-defining the word "privilege". The ability to go through life without being harassed by police, as well as being able to live a life of freedom is not privilege, but a basic right.

As such, what he really advocates is not bringing basic rights to Blacks, but making Whites feeling guilty about having basic rights.