Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and educators in the United States. He has spent the past 25 years speaking to audiences in all 50 states, on over 1500 college and high school campuses, at hundreds of professional and academic conferences, and to community groups across the country.
Wise has also trained corporate, government, entertainment, media, law enforcement, military, and medical industry professionals on methods for dismantling racial inequity in their institutions, and has provided anti-racism training to educators and administrators nationwide and internationally, in Canada and Bermuda.
Wise is the author of nine books, including his latest, Dispatches from the Race War (City Lights Books). Other books include Under the Affluence, Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority and Colorblind (all from City Lights Books); his highly-acclaimed memoir, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, (recently updated and re-released by Soft Skull Press); Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White; Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections From an Angry White Male; and Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama.
Named one of “25 Visionaries Who are Changing Your World,” by Utne Reader, Wise has contributed chapters or essays to over 25 additional books and his writings are taught in colleges and universities across the nation. His essays have appeared on Alternet, Salon, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, The Root, Black Commentator, BK Nation and Z Magazine among other popular, professional and scholarly journals.
From 1999-2003, Wise was an advisor to the Fisk University Race Relations Institute, in Nashville, and in the early ’90s he was Youth Coordinator and Associate Director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and Nazism: the largest of the many groups organized for the purpose of defeating neo-Nazi political candidate, David Duke.
Wise has been featured in several documentaries, including two from the Media Education Foundation. “White Like Me: Race, Racism and White Privilege in America,” which he co-wrote and co-produced, has been called “A phenomenal educational tool in the struggle against racism,” and “One of the best films made on the unfinished quest for racial justice,” by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva of Duke University, and Robert Jensen of the University of Texas, respectively. "The Great White Hoax: Donald Trump & the Politics of Race & Class in America" features Wise explores how American political leaders of both parties have been tapping into white anxiety, stoking white grievance, and scapegoating people of color for decades to divide and conquer working class voters and shore up political support.
Wise also appears alongside legendary scholar and activist, Angela Davis, in the 2011 documentary, “Vocabulary of Change.” In this public dialogue between the two activists, Davis and Wise discussed the connections between issues of race, class, gender, sexuality and militarism, as well as inter-generational movement building and the prospects for social change. More recently, he appeared in Chelsea Handler's Netflix documentary Hello Privilege, It’s Me Chelsea on white privilege and racism in the United States.
Wise appears regularly on CNN and MSNBC to discuss race issues and was featured in a 2007 segment on 20/20. He graduated from Tulane University in 1990 and received antiracism training from the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, in New Orleans. He is also the host of the podcast, Speak Out with Tim Wise.
DEI or DOA? How To Move Beyond Window-Dressing to Achieve Institutional Equity In this presentation, Wise examines DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) efforts in educational, government, and/or corporate settings, and how those efforts either support real change or perpetuate institutional inequity. As he explains in this speech, much of what gets done under the rubric of DEI doesn’t challenge fundamental cultural norms or practices that contribute to inequity, rendering DEI efforts DOA (Dead on Arrival), regardless of the good intentions of those charged with implementing them. Until those structural impediments to change are explored and altered, institutions are setting up their DEI officers for failure, letting down their employees, staff and/or students of color, and doing real damage to the cause of justice. Wise will provide examples of structural changes and institutional norms that promote equity, so that participants can walk away with tangible ideas on how to move real DEI work forward.
Beyond Diversity: Steps for Uprooting Racism, Privilege and Institutional Inequity [Note: This can be done as a workshop or as a lecture presentation followed by Q & A.] In this session, Tim 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 -- participants 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 that can be explored in this 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
What White Folks Should Do Now: Anti-Racist Solidarity in an Age of Backlash Since the racial justice uprising of 2020, right-wing backlash and stalled progress on issues of racial equity have left many frustrated and worried about the direction of the racial justice movement. Although people of color are used to the long-term nature of the work, many white folks who only came into the movement after the murder of George Floyd are showing signs of fatigue and uncertainty. How can white people engage in racial justice work responsibly, without losing steam? What is their role in the work? What does real solidarity look like? This talk will help focus white antiracist efforts by grounding them in a historical context, and examining what it means to be conscious, connected, and committed to justice in an unjust world. How do we retain hope in hard times? And most importantly, how do we remain accountable as we engage with persons of color who have the most to lose if racial justice efforts fail?
Racial Justice on Campus in a Post-Affirmative Action World: What Colleges Can (and Must) Do Now With the Supreme Court poised to strike down affirmative action in admissions, colleges and universities will be faced with a dilemma: how to maintain and expand racial and ethnic diversity on campus absent the ability to explicitly consider race in the process of selecting students. In this presentation, Tim Wise explores the impact of the likely court ruling (due in June), and how colleges can and should respond. Although maintaining diversity and achieving equity will be more difficult in the absence of affirmative action as we’ve known it, the current moment also provides an opportunity for campuses to pivot and develop admissions policies that could, in the long run, facilitate even greater diversity and equity than had been previously achieved with the old policies. Why this matters, and how to make it work, is the subject of this timely new presentation.
The Attack on Critical Race Theory — What’s It Really About? In this presentation, Wise examines the recent attacks on anti-racist education and the real motivations behind them. Although those leading the attack claim they are simply pushing back against “Critical Race Theory” — which they claim is anti-white and suggests America is an evil nation — CRT teaches no such things, and isn’t actually being taught in K-12 schools to begin with. When we examine what books and lessons the right is seeking to ban — including children’s books about Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks — it becomes clear: this isn’t about stopping “radical” ideas from being taught; it’s about whitewashing history. As Wise demonstrates, this assault on truth is about three things: seeking to stem support for the movement for racial justice and Black lives, seeking to blame the victims of racial injustice for their position in American society, and undermining support for public education itself.
Anti-Racism is Not a Self-Help Movement: Moving From Individual Analysis to Systemic Change In this presentation, Wise explores contemporary anti-racism analysis and “activism,” and critiques the way both have developed since the killing of George Floyd. From implicit bias training to workshops on white privilege and fragility, too much of the work has focused on whites as individuals — fixing their biases, checking their privileges, and challenging their fragility — rather than creating policies, practices, and procedures in schools, non-profits, and corporate settings that will produce greater racial equity. While understanding implicit bias, privilege and fragility can be helpful as a first step, it remains too easy to get stuck at that level, never moving on to explore systemic change. In this speech, Wise discusses how to bring a systemic lens to our anti-racism, so as to avoid merely individualizing and “psychologizing” anti-racism work, ultimately turning it into just another self-help movement, rather than a movement for justice.
Tim Wise can also tailor presentations to focus on topics like race and education, race and health care, race and the legal system, among others. Contact SpeakOut for details.