Episode for May 9, 2023
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Tim Wise, whom scholar and philosopher Cornel West calls, “A vanilla brother in the tradition of (abolitionist) John Brown,” is among the nation’s most prominent antiracist essayists and educators. He has spent the past 25 years speaking to audiences in all 50 states, on over 1000 college and high school campuses, at hundreds of professional and academic conferences, and to community groups across the nation. He has also lectured internationally in Canada and Bermuda, and has trained corporate, government, law enforcement and medical industry professionals on methods for dismantling racism in their institutions.
Wise’s antiracism work traces back to his days as a college activist in the 1980s, fighting for divestment from (and economic sanctions against) apartheid South Africa. After graduation, he threw himself into social justice efforts full-time, as a Youth Coordinator and Associate Director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and Nazism: the largest of the many groups organized in the early 1990s to defeat the political candidacies of white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. From there, he became a community organizer in New Orleans’ public housing, and a policy analyst for a children’s advocacy group focused on combatting poverty and economic inequity. He has served as an adjunct professor at the Smith College School of Social Work, in Northampton, MA., and from 1999-2003 was an advisor to the Fisk University Race Relations Institute in Nashville, TN.
Wise is the author of seven books, including his highly-acclaimed memoir, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, as well as Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority, and Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America. His forthcoming book, White LIES Matter: Race, Crime and the Politics of Fear in America, will be released in 2018. His essays have appeared on Alternet, Salon, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, Black Commentator, BK Nation, Z Magazine and The Root, which recently named Wise one of the “8 Wokest White People We Know.”
Wise has been featured in several documentaries, including “The Great White Hoax: Donald Trump and the Politics of Race and Class in America,” and “White Like Me: Race, Racism and White Privilege in America,” both from the Media Education Foundation. He also appeared 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. Wise is also one of five persons—including President Barack Obama—interviewed for a video exhibition on race relations in America, featured at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. Additionally, his media presence includes dozens of appearances on CNN, MSNBC and NPR, feature interviews on ABC’s 20/20 and CBS’s 48 Hours, as well as videos posted on YouTube, Facebook and other social media platforms that have received over 20 million views. His podcast, “Speak Out with Tim Wise,” launched this fall and features weekly interviews with activists, scholars and artists about movement building and strategies for social change.
Wise graduated from Tulane University in 1990 and received antiracism training from the People’s Institute for Survival and
Beyond, in New Orleans.