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Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity
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Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  466 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
"It's a great book. I highly, highly, highly recommend it." --Tavis Smiley

In this powerful follow-up to Between Barack and a Hard Place, Tim Wise argues against “colorblindness” and for a deeper color-consciousness in both public and private practice. We can only begin to move toward authentic social and economic equity through what Wise calls "illuminated individualism"—a
Paperback, 216 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by City Lights Publishers (first published 2010)
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John Kaufmann
This book debunks the idea of post-racial liberalism. Post-racial liberalism is the idea that we have addressed most of the major racial issues in our society, capped by the election of our first black president, and that appeals to race may be counterproductive to further progress. Instead, the argument goes, social issues are better dealt with in a race neutral context (e.g., health care for all, raising the minimum wage, etc.).

Certainly, we have made progress in addressing many of the issues
Jul 10, 2012 rated it liked it
(6/10) In this book Tim Wise finally decides to step up to the plate and take a swing at Obama, in the most respectful and definitely-not-racist way possible. His thesis here is that Obama represents a trend in liberal thought away from specific attention to racial issues via affirmitive action and such towards what Wise calls "colorblind universalism", which focuses on creating universally beneficial public programs.

This is a real phenomenon, and Wise cites a number of influential authors whose
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone.

Tim Wise speaks a real talk that is incredibly accessible, unarguably relevant and extraordinarily necessary. Here, Wise attacks the developing push for a post-racial America, especially by the self-proclaimed liberal left. He levels attacks not only on an ideological front but more importantly from a purely strategic angle, persuasively arguing that meaningful progress with regards to racial disparities requires a race-conscious, not race-neutral, approach.

After exploring the rise of post-r
City Lights Booksellers & Publishers
"If you don't know who Tim Wise is, you will after this book." — Mark Anthony Neal, author of New Black Man and Professor of African & African-American Studies at Duke University

"With Colorblind, Tim Wise offers a gutsy call to arms. Rather than play nice and reiterate the fiction of black racial transcendence, Wise takes the gloves off: He insists white Americans themselves must be at the forefront of the policy shifts necessary to correct our nation's racial imbalances in crime, health, w
Jessica Baran
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Especially compelling in its analysis of Obama's problematic colorblind politics, and an important overall argument substantiated by ample statistical data. Just a little baffled as to why Wise never cites Kendall Thomas' 2002 article "Racial Justice: Moral or Political?" from which most of his main ideas seem derived. I 'd say that's a significant oversight on many levels.
May 05, 2017 rated it liked it
"To begin, if the rhetoric of racial transcendence gives the impression--as it does, almost by definition--that the racial injustices of the past are no longer instrumental in determining life chances and outcomes, it will become increasingly likely that persons seeing significant racial stratification in society will rationalize those disparities as owing to some cultural or biological flaw on the part of those at the bottom of the hierarchy. In other words, racial bias would become almost rati ...more
Jeff Vandeusen
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not a trivial or simply entertaining read -- what's in it matters very much and requires an effort for some of us to keep an open mind and heart regarding its messages. The statistics and support are compelling, the conclusions and calls to action well reasoned. Now having gained this awareness, I need to work on my own behaviors and watch for leaders who espouse these ideals.
Feb 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'll have you know my book has a different subtitle: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat From Racial Equity. No mention of Obama. If it did mention Obama I would have felt more prepared about the attacks on Obama that were brought up from this book during class discussion. I did not completely read the book. It did help me see that I share quite a bit of Obama's post-racial liberalism. Wise makes the argument that we needed to say that health care reform is a black issue. I complete ...more
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is very educational and insightful. There were a lot of statements and sources mentioned in this book that grabbed my attention. The one that spoke to me the most is this one paragraph that I believe is worth sharing:

(view spoiler)
May 21, 2010 rated it liked it
As a regular reader of Tim Wise, I was excited to pick up his new book AT City Lights during a recent trip to San Francisco. Sadly, I didn't find this text as engaging as some of his previous works. It's not for lack of a good concept - Wise's thesis is that "post-racial liberalism" (as practiced by many democrats, including President Obama) actually moves us further from racial justice than a more color conscious approach (here he calls it "illuminated individualism). Intriguing, right? Yet he ...more
Svetlana Kurilova
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: black-and-white
Tim Wise is very convincing in his arguments that we are not ready for colorblindness. The equalities penetrate all areas of our life – education, work, and health policies. We still are facing racial issues throughout life. The author describes the situation and proposes the ways of how to “fix” our society. We have to be aware of our own stereotypes and keep them in check. Tim Wise also discusses that it is really important to teach our children the history of the U.S. and about the role of th ...more
It is distressing that most of the people who really need to read this book never will and, fundamentally, that explains the prevalence of the flawed post-racial narrative Wise intellectually destroys in this book. The fact of the matter is that most people who do not have to think critically about the consequences of race do not, and they certainly do not take it upon themselves to pursue an understanding of the critical historical context of the race-based social and economic disparities our s ...more
Lori Peek
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is for anyone who cares about living in a more just and racially equitable society. Wise does a masterful job of pulling together hundreds of social-psychological and sociological studies that illustrate the ongoing signficance of race in shaping lives and life chances. The book is organized around four aspects of social life - housing, education, health care, and employment - where racial disparities are most glaring. Wise convincingly argues why the "post-racial" and "colorblind" nar ...more
Zawn V
Aug 15, 2010 rated it liked it
This is not Wise's strongest work. It seems there's a trend with writers who do social science. Once they begin to get publicity, they start churning stuff out every two years; unfortunately, much of the stuff is recycled old work. This is the case with Colorblind.

Wise rehashes the basic arguments of why white people are privileged, why racism still exists, etc. And while this is necessary if this book is given to someone who's never been introduced to these basic concepts, for his readers who a
Ko Matsuo
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Tim Wise's critique of the modern color-blind solutions to racism is extremely insightful and eyeopening, though disjointed and sometimes rambling in its presentation. The color-blind argument is that if we address "bigger" issues such as poverty, drug abuse, and education, racism will eventually disappear. A well known example is President Obama's Democratic National Convention Speech, in which he said, "There is not a black America and a white America ... - there's the United States of America ...more
Paul Yoon
Dec 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loved
I thought this book was incredible. I have heard Tim Wise speak once before during college and I have heard about his work through word of mouth but this was the first book I decided to read of his. I found it compelling, well-researched, thoughtful, and above all else practical. I appreciated his deep analysis of the fallacy of post-racial liberalism and how we must on the one hand address structural change but at the same time develop what he calls illuminated individualism. I also appreciated ...more
Apr 21, 2013 rated it liked it
I was interested in reading this book after watching Tim Wise on YouTube. He is clearly a dynamic speaker and a very thoughtful academic. The book itself is a bit academic and dry, but thought-provoking. His central premise is counter-intuitive, that color-blindness (ignoring race) itself leads to unfairness because it ignores both historic and present-day disparate treatment. In its place, he suggests a form of race-conscience individualism, recognizing that someone is both an individual and a ...more
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Illuminating book and a fairly quick read. Tim Wise is a gifted writer, presenting logical arguments that are easy to follow.

By taking a color-conscious approach, the author shines a light on modern-day racism found in employment, housing, education and health care. Over and over he proves that being black in America has its own set of risks unique to the United States.

Throughout the book, Wise makes a strong case against the myth of racial transcendence, asserting that "When it comes to race, w
Ryan Wilson
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Does a great job of putting to bed the idea that we live in a post-racial country, in spite of the fact that we elected a black president. The book spends a great deal of time showing empirically the effects of both historical, legal racism and contemporary, subversive racism. It advocates for race-based reform in addition to socioeconomic-based measures. The last quarter of the book offers some concrete suggestions to working toward a more equal society. I strongly recommend it to anybody inter ...more
May 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wise is extremely redundant. It makes me wonder if ran out of material after the previous book, or is it because we need to hear this message many times? My only criticism so far- I think he is too harsh on Obama. Obama would have never been elected in to office without belittling the issue of racism in America. Wise should focus more on that (the additional challenge of being a minority in politics) than how Obama "chooses" to skirt around the issue. I see Obama more as a victim of racism than ...more
Jul 31, 2013 added it
This non-fictional piece was very insightful and powerful. Tim Wise is right on target when he speaks of "White Privilege." After reading the book, I downloaded some relevant podcast with Tim lecturing. He is an inspirational speaker. I was moved and inspired. This book is useful and a good read for anyone, white or black who is interested in understanding race relations in America. They have it at ibooks as well. I just happen to still like holding and annotating in my books::::))))))).
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book took me a long time to read, but I think it's because there was so much to take in and think about even though it wasn't an overly academic-type of read. Wise helps clarify and make accessible some pretty tough and complex issues that are extremely relevant. I would definitely need to read this again. Too bad I borrowed a friend's copy - I think I would have underlined and marked up a lot of things.
Dec 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Tim Wise does a fantastic job of laying out the reasons for why we should abandon the concept of 'colorblind.' He spends quite a lot of time on health care in the African American population and the ways in which discrimination manifests into illness.

Then he lays out his vision of adopting color-conscious policies and approaches to hiring, health care, education, and housing. His vision of illuminated individualism is insightful and brilliant.
Stig Edvartsen
Feb 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Well worth reading to challenge your own assumptions about racism. This should be mandatory reading for anyone in a position where they can influence public or company policy on recruitment and racism. It very anchored in the US, so readers in other countries may want to supplement with local authors on the same topics.
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great companion to his first book analyzing Race "in the age of Obama" Here he goes more in-depth into the form of post Racial liberalism Obama has employed as President and why it is a problem. What makes this book the most refreshing is that he gives practical solutions to actually fixing the issue of "colorblindness"
Claire Melanie
Jun 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Finally re-read and actually finished this book. Feel the first chapter is the strongest but overall it's good. Not very long though so don't expect much in depth analysis. Some interesting strategies offered in the final chapter too. Good point that if we wait for the government to lead change hell will freeze over first.
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal book! I read this for my Critical Thinking course. Tim Wise is a brilliant public speaker and a incredible writer on the subject of racism and privilege. All of his claims are backed up by at least 300 sources. A must read for anyone who is interested in tackling racism and bigotry.
Dec 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a little harder for me to get through than some of his other books, but the message is real and needed - racial prejudices and inequality still exists in the US today, and bold actions and steps must be taken if we hope to overcome it.
Rebecca Stuhr
Aug 26, 2010 rated it liked it
I had some problems with Wise's presentation, but his premise is compelling and worthy. No need to criticize President Obama to the extent Wise does--and it's his second book on this topic in one year.
Aug 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: racism
as always, wise lands exactly the right amount of info to be able to perfectly remember every statistic. amazing, easy to read, probably the single book i would demand everyone in the country read if i had a choice.
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  • Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice
  • Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality
  • White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism
  • The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism, and White Privilege
  • Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States
  • We Are Not Afraid: The Story of Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney, and the Civil Rights Campaign for Mississippi
  • Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis
  • Floodlines: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six
  • Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society
  • The Possessive Investment In Whiteness
  • The History of White People
  • The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class
  • The Invention of the White Race: Racial Oppression and Social Control (Volume 1) (Haymarket Series)
  • Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority
  • When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America
  • Race, Reform, and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction in Black America, 1945-1990
  • Black Power: The Color Curtain / Black Power / White Man, Listen!
Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the U.S., and has been called the foremost white anti-racist intellectual in the nation, having spoken in 46 states, and on over 300 college campuses, including Harvard, Stanford, Cal Tech and the Law Schools at Yale, Columbia, Michigan, and Vanderbilt.

From 1999 to 2003, Wise served as an advisor to the Fisk University Race
More about Tim Wise...

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“Standing still is never an option so long as inequities remain embedded in the very fabric of the culture.” 20 likes
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