Essay Archive

Not Just a Joke: Reflections on Free Speech, Violence and Mislabeled Heroism

Many years ago, when discussing the issue of hate speech and how it should be addressed on college campuses, my friend Paul Gallegos at Evergreen State College smiled and said, “Ya know, just because speech is free, doesn’t mean that it has to be worthless.” It’s a concept and a phrasing that has stuck with [...]

A Serious Question About Free Speech, “Heroism” and Violence

Post by Tim Wise.

Of Makers and Takers Revisited: The Right’s Latest Lies About Dependence on Government

On the one hand, I get it. Census Bureau reports can be pretty dry and a bit vague. They tend to be heavy on facts but pretty open-ended as to how one might interpret those facts. Census researchers aren’t paid to explain what the numbers suggest in most cases; rather, they are charged with compiling [...]

Of Matriarchs and Misinformation: Fact-Checking Conservative Lies About Black Women

In the wake of recent police killings of young black men — John Crawford, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice most prominently — there has been much discussion about the way in which large numbers of white Americans, and especially white police, view African American males. The criminalization of the black male body has [...]

We Don’t Need Nice, We Need Justice: Racism and the Moral Blindness of White America

This past week, Chris Rock noted in an interview that in his estimation, America is producing the nicest white people in its history. Perhaps. But if so, this only suggests the pitiable limits of niceness and its utter irrelevance for the production of something approaching justice, or for that matter even insight. And if so, [...]

Far More Than Anecdote: Quantifying Racism and White Privilege in the Criminal Justice System

“Personal anecdotes don’t prove anything. The justice system isn’t racist. Black people are arrested more often because they commit more crime. Period. End of story.” So read the message in my inbox this morning, sent by someone who had happened across my essay about Ferguson, the grand jury decision in the Darren Wilson case, and [...]

Of Gods and Monsters: Valorizing the Rich in a Culture of Cruelty

The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, The Culture of Cruelty: How America’s Elite Demonize the Poor, Valorize the Rich and Jeopardize the Future (San Francisco: City Lights, 2015) This section explores the way that many (especially on the right) valorize the wealthy and insist that unlike the poor — the so-called “takers” [...]

I Was No Angel Either: Crime, Deviance and White Privilege in America

He was no angel. That’s the refrain, repeated for over two months on social media by defenders of Officer Darren Wilson, convinced that Michael Brown was little more than a violent and dangerous thug, worthy of death that August day in Ferguson. From the beginning, Brown’s strong-arm theft of cigars from a local market was [...]

Repetitive Motion Disorder: Black Reality and White Denial in America

I suppose there is no longer much point in debating the facts surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown. First, because Officer Darren Wilson has been cleared by a grand jury, and even the collective brilliance of a thousand bloggers pointing out the glaring inconsistencies in his version of events that August day won’t result in [...]

Poverty Denialism in a Culture of Cruelty: Bashing the Poor as Right-Wing Amusement

The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, The Culture of Cruelty: How America’s Elite Demonize the Poor, Valorize the Rich and Jeopardize the Future (San Francisco: City Lights, 2015) This section explores the way that many (especially on the right) downplay or dismiss the problem of poverty and the hardship faced by the [...]