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Tim Wise quotes (showing 1-30 of 51)

“The power of resistance is to set an example: not necessarily to change the person with whom you disagree, but to empower the one who is watching and whose growth is not yet completed, whose path is not at all clear, whose direction is still very much up in the proverbial air.”
Tim Wise, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
“The irony of American history is the tendency of good white Americanas to presume racial innocence. Ignorance of how we are shaped racially is the first sign of privilege.

In other words. It is a privilege to ignore the consequences of race in America.”
Tim Wise
“And let's just be honest, there is no such place called 'justice,' if by that we envision a finish line, or a point at which the battle is won and the need to continue the struggle over with. After all, even when you succeed in obtaining a measure of justice, you're always forced to mobilize to defend that which you've won. There is no looming vacation. But there is redemption in struggle.”
Tim Wise, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
“...After all, acknowledging unfairness then calls decent people forth to correct those injustices. And since most persons are at their core, decent folks, the need to ignore evidence of injustice is powerful: To do otherwise would force whites to either push for change (which they would perceive as against their interests) or live consciously as hypocrites who speak of freedom and opportunity but perpetuate a system of inequality.

The irony of American history is the tendency of good white Americanas to presume racial innocence. Ignorance of how we are shaped racially is the first sign of privilege.

In other words. It is a privilege to ignore the consequences of race in America.”
Tim Wise
“So, in "Melting Pot" the children (about a third of whom were kids of color) sang the line, "America was the new world and Europe was the old," in one stroke eradicating the narratives of indigenous persons for whom America was hardly new, and any nonwhite kids whose old worlds had been in Africa or Asia, not Europe.”
Tim Wise, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
“Standing still is never an option so long as inequities remain embedded in the very fabric of the culture.”
Tim Wise, Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity
“What whites have rarely had to think about—because being the dominant group, we are so used to having our will done, with a little effort at least—is that maybe the point is not victory, however much we all wish to see justice attained and injustice routed. Maybe our redemption comes from the struggle itself. Maybe it is in the effort, the striving for equality and freedom that we become human.”
Tim Wise, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
“When I got to college, the fake ID thing wasn't that important, since pretty much everyone could get away with drinking in New Orleans. But the drugs, well, that was a different story altogether, because drugs are every bit as illegal in New Orleans as anywhere else--at least, if you're black and poor, and have the misfortune of doing your drugs somewhere other than the dorms at Tulane University. But if you are lucky enough to be living at Tulane, which is a pretty white place, especially contrasted with the city where it's located, which is 65 percent black, then you are absolutely set.”
Tim Wise, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
“Ignorance of how we are shaped racially is the first sign of privilege. In other words. It is a privilege to ignore the consequences of race in America.”
Tim Wise
“Stuff Happens.’ That’s the G-rated version. That’s a bumper sticker that
only a straight white upper middle class male could have made. Because anyone who
isn’t straight, anyone who isn’t male, anyone who isn’t white, anyone who isn’t upper middle class knows that stuff doesn’t just happen. Stuff gets done by people to people. Nothing is a coincidence. Nothing is random. This isn’t osmosis. And so we act as if it’s this passive thing, but yet that’s not the case.”
Tim Wise
“After all, acknowledging unfairness then calls decent people forth to correct those injustices. And since most persons are at their core, decent folks, the need to ignore evidence of injustice is powerful: To do otherwise would force whites to either push for change (which they would perceive as against their interests) or live consciously as hypocrites who speak of freedom and opportunity but perpetuate a system of inequality.”
Tim Wise
“Hardly any aspect of my life, from where I had lived to my education to my employment history to my friendships, had been free from the taint of racial inequity, from racism, from whiteness. My racial identity had shaped me from the womb forward. I had not been in control of my own narrative. It wasn’t just race that was a social construct. So was I.”
Tim Wise, White Like Me
“And in "Elbow Room" the cast sings the glories of westward expansion in the United States, which involved the murder of native peoples and the violent conquest of half of Mexico. Among the lines in the song is one that intones, "There were plenty of fights / To win land right / But the West was meant to be / It was our Manifest Destiny?" Let it suffice to say that happily belting out a tune in which one merrily praises genocide is always easier for those whose ancestors weren't on the receiving end of the deal.”
Tim Wise, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
“To pay attention to the American political process, and what the
candidates for this nation’s highest office have to say and not say about the issues that are of importance to them and thus we are to presume importance to the Nation, you would get the impression that the issue of race, that the issue of racism, that the issue of discrimination, and certainly that the issue of white racial privilege were non existent issues; that they were of really no importance, or that of very little importance, because you will not hear and have not heard any of the candidates for the presidency of the United States, in either party, of whatever political ideology, make this an issue. Yes,they talk about poverty and occasionally they talk about schooling and education. They talk about healthcare. They talk about all of those things, but not once have any of those candidates tried to directly connect the role that racism, the role that racial
discrimination, the role that institutional racial oppression and white privilege play in regard to health care, in regard to housing, in regard to schooling. It is as if those issues exist in a vacuum and have no relationship to color, have no relationship to race, have
no relationship to a history of racial subordination.”
Tim Wise
“Genealogy itself is something of a privilege, coming far more easily to those of us for whom enslavement, conquest, and dispossession of our land has not been our lot.”
Tim Wise
“As harsh as it may sound to some of us, Toni Morrison had it right when she suggested, “In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.”
Tim Wise, Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority
“But the right won’t tell us that, because to put the blame where it belongs, on deregulation rather than regulation, on greedy companies and individuals who are of means, rather than poor black and brown people, would hardly serve the right’s goal; namely, the manipulation of our racial anxiety and resentments into a potent political weapon.”
Tim Wise, Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority
“When you’re a member of the privileged group, you don’t take kindly to someone telling you that you can’t do something,”
Tim Wise, White Like Me
“People never hurt others in moments of personal strength and bravery, when they are feeling good about themselves, when they are strong and confident. If we spent all of our waking moments in that place, then fighting for social justice would be redundant; we would simply have social justice and be done with it, and we could all go swimming, or fishing, or bowling, or dancing, or whatever people do. But it is because we spend so much of our time in that other place, that place of diminished capacity, of flagging energy, or wavering and somewhat flaccid commitment, that we have to be careful.”
Tim Wise, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
“The power of resistance is to set an example: not necessarily to change the person with whom you disagree, but to empower the one who is watching and whose growth is not yet complete, whose path is not at all clear, whose direction is still very much in the proverbial air.”
Tim Wise, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
“In other words, government had always been big for people like us, and we were fine with that. But beginning in the 1960s, as people of color began to gain access to the benefits for which we had always been eligible, suddenly we discovered our inner libertarian and decided that government intervention was bad,”
Tim Wise, Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority
“Middle-class and more affluent blacks are also disproportionately the targets of subprime mortgage loans, paying much higher rates of interest than comparable white borrowers, and are subjected, according to the available evidence, to racial profiling of all types.”
Tim Wise, Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority
“People who imagine that history flatters them (as it does, indeed, since they wrote it) are impaled on their history like a butterfly on a pin and become incapable of seeing or changing themselves, or the world. This is the place in which it seems to me, most white Americans find themselves. Impaled. They are dimly, or vividly, aware that the history they have fed themselves is mainly a lie, but they do not know how to release themselves from it, and they suffer enormously from the resulting personal incoherence.”
Tim Wise, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
“Consider the perverse logic of Rush Limbaugh’s suggestion that President Obama was deliberately trying to destroy the American economy as some form of “payback” for slavery and racism, or Glenn Beck’s charge that health care reform is really just Barack Obama’s way to obtain reparations for slavery. Both allegations seem the stuff of absurdist and paranoid fantasy, and yet, in an era of white racial anxiety and resentment, they couldn’t be more rational. They serve, almost perfectly, as triggers for our racial angers and insecurities. That black guy is trying to harm us, to take our money and give it to them, to make us hurt the way his people were hurt.”
Tim Wise, Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority
“Sometimes you have to laugh at the absurdity of this system, so as not to cry.”
Tim Wise
“Additional research tells us that lighter-skinned immigrants, mostly from European nations, earn around 15 percent more than darker-skinned immigrants, even when all their respective qualifications and markers of personal productivity are the same.”
Tim Wise, Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority
“And let’s not forget that George Washington “loved the Indians,” according to Glenn Beck,126 never mind that he waged an annihilationist war against them. Indeed, Washington wrote to Major General John Sullivan, imploring him to “lay waste” to all Iroquois settlements, so that their lands may not be “merely overrun but destroyed.”127”
Tim Wise, Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority
“Almost all of those big government programs I just mentioned, which retained such high levels of support from the white masses, had been racially exclusive in design and implementation. In fact, the only way President Roosevelt could get most of the New Deal passed was by capitulating to the racist whims of white Southern senators who insisted that blacks be excluded from most of its benefits.”
Tim Wise, Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority
“We depended on the indigenous of this land to teach us farming and harvesting skills that we largely lacked upon arrival. Indeed, had it not been for the wisdom of native North Americans, the first attempt at European colonization would have failed entirely. We were starving in droves, perishing in Jamestown because we had spent so much time looking for gold that we’d forgotten to plant crops that could sustain us through the harsh winters. Four hundred–plus years later that folly has been repeated, at least metaphorically, in an economy so focused on the chasing of wealth for wealth’s sake that it has failed to re-sow its crops, to invest in the future, to actually produce anything of value as it opts, instead, to chase financial fortunes and immediate riches.”
Tim Wise, Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority
“And according to the most recent annual data from 2009, even when a black person has a college degree, he or she is nearly twice as likely as one of us with a degree to be unemployed, while Latinos and Asian Americans with degrees are 40 percent more likely than we are to be out of work, with the same qualifications.”
Tim Wise, Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority

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