Last week a friend brought to my attention a short piece in the Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago newspaper, about an “anti-racism educator and author” named Tim Wise. He spoke to an attentive audience at a Black History Month event last week at the Elgin Community College. A taste of the report:
Contrary to the opinion of most white Americans, racism exists, Wise told students.
To deny racism is inherently racist because it discounts the experience and testimonials of people of color, Wise said.
And with racism, Wise said, comes its inverse: white privilege.
Pretty gutsy stuff to be presenting to a mostly white audience, for sure—though it probably helps that it was packaged as a “Black History Month” event. But did I mention that Tim Wise is white?
The article notes that he’s been “labeled a racist by some and even drawn the occasional threat against his life.” I found out a little more about Wise here at his website, though it looks like it hasn’t been updated recently.
One of the questions that occurred to me while reading the Herald article is this: Are white people more likely to be receptive to a provocative message about race relations if it’s coming from a white speaker? Or would that tick some folks off even more? I’m curious to know whether you have any thoughts on that. Also, are any of you already familiar with Tim Wise?
(By the way, the Daily Herald article may require you to register before you can read it. Sorry about that.)