CHALLENGING THE CULTURE OF CRUELTY: UNDERSTANDING AND DEFEATING RACE AND CLASS INEQUITY IN AMERICA
In this speech, drawn from his newest book, Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Jeopardizing the Future of America, Tim Wise examines the ways in which American politics and culture serve to rationalize inequalities on the basis of class and race.
From the myth of “rugged individualism” to the racialized attacks on the nation’s poor, American ideology has long served to explain away inequity as a natural outcome of differential talent, effort or cultural attributes. But as Wise shows in this presentation, to believe that the poor and unemployed are to blame for their own plight, or that the rich deserve their positions and wealth is to believe in a pernicious and destructive lie that threatens the very heart of democracy and true equal opportunity. By exploring the way that racism has been central to the development and perpetuation of the nation’s class system, Wise demonstrates the importance of undermining the dominant white racial narrative not solely to fight racism itself, but larger economic and social injustice as well.
RESURRECTING APARTHEID, FROM FERGUSON TO THE VOTING BOOTH TO THE BORDER—COMBATING RACISM IN THE POST-OBAMA ERA
In this talk, Tim Wise examines the ways in which racism in the U.S.—even blatant forms thought to be long buried—are rearing their ugly heads again and threatening the future of American democracy. Heightened police brutality, racial profiling, attempts to limit voting access by people of color, and blatantly racialized anti-immigrant backlash are among the issues explored (and tied together) in this especially timely speech.
As Wise notes, what all of these issues have in common is the white racial anxiety that propels each forward. Aggressive policing of communities of color stems from the racially-paranoid white fear of black and brown crime; restrictions on voting stem from a fear that too many voters of color will elect candidates hostile to conservative white political interests; and anti-immigrant hysteria stems from white fears that "too many" brown folks will spell the end of the “traditional America” that conservative whites have long preferred. Herein, Wise not only demonstrates the ways in which racial apartheid is being resurrected (albeit in a 2.0 form), but explains how believers in multiracial democracy can fight back.
COLORBLIND: THE RISE OF POST-RACIAL POLITICS AND THE RETREAT FROM RACIAL EQUITY
Ever since the civil rights movement, Americans (liberal and conservative) have advocated a retreat from color-conscious public policies such as affirmative action, and even from open discussion of racism as a key factor in the perpetuation of racial inequity in the United States. They have argued that the barriers faced by black and brown Americans are largely divorced from racism, and that these stem either from race-neutral economic factors (such as deindustrialization and inadequate funding for education, jobs programs, and other programs of social uplift) or cultural factors (single-parent families, welfare dependence, and a “culture of poverty”). From this starting point, they contend that "universal" programs intended to help the poor and working class are the best means for narrowing the racial inequalities, or that “self-help” and “personal responsibility” will suffice.
In discussing the pitfalls of "colorblindness" in the Obama era, Wise argues against colorblindness and for deeper color-consciousness in both public and private practice. He also debunks the notion that racial inequalities can be blamed on cultural attributes specific to people of color, or that those inequalities can be solved with race-neutral economic policies. Wise explains that we can only begin to move toward authentic social and economic equity through what he calls “illuminated individualism” — acknowledging the way racial identity continues to shape our experiences and perceptions (consciously and unconsciously) today.
WORKSHOP: “Beyond Diversity: Steps for Uprooting Racism, Privilege and Institutional Inequity”
In this interactive workshop, participants will explore the causes -- both formal and informal -- for institutional racial inequities. By examining the various policies practices and procedures that exist within educational, employment and organizational settings -- and which often inadvertently perpetuate unequal opportunity and treatment -- workshop attendees can develop strategies for shifting their institutional cultures in the direction of greater parity.
This session can be tailored specifically for educators (at the primary, secondary or higher ed level), businesses, non-profits, government agencies, or religious bodies, as desired.
Among the topics explored in the session are:
• The difference between individual bias and institutional bias
• The sources of internalized supremacy/oppression and how these can manifest in all of us
• Privilege as the flipside of oppression
• Stereotype Vulnerability and Racial Performance Gaps - The Hidden Key to Disparities
• The harms of inequity for all members of an institution, including dominant group members
• Strategies for creating equity in the classroom, workspace, and throughout our institutions
Ideally this workshop can be conducted as a, half-day, full-day training or two-day training. Participants will work in small groups, in one-on-one pairings, and as a plenary.
Note: Workshops can be adapted to run fewer hours and/or to include more participants. Focus can be tailored to your specific goals and desired outcomes.