Tim Wise on the Myth of White Victimhood and the Reality of White Fragility (AM Joy, MSNBC, December 2016)

Short clip in response to a series of viral videos in which white Trump supporters claimed to have been victims of “reverse racism” and went berserk in public places…


Tim Wise on CNN to Discuss Race, Racism and the Trump Cabinet 11/19/16

My appearance on CNN to discuss the real racial problem with Donald Trump’s cabinet picks. It’s not the lack of diversity…it’s the ideological backwardness


Discovering the Light in Darkness: Donald Trump and the Future of America

“One discovers the light in darkness. That is what darkness is for. But everything in our lives depends on how we bear the light. It is necessary, while in darkness, to know that there is a light somewhere, to know that in oneself, waiting to be found there is a light. What the light reveals is danger, and what it demands is faith…I know we often lose…and how often one feels that one cannot start again. And yet, on pain of death, one can never remain where one is. The light. The light. One will perish without the light…For nothing is fixed, forever, and forever, and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have…The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. And the moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.”

— James Baldwin, “Nothing Personal,” 1964

So first, remember to breathe. It won’t change what has happened, but it will keep you alive; and this, as it turns out, is indisputably helpful for what must come next. For only the living can resist.

I wish there were some way to spin this, to soften the sharp edges of these blades slicing into the connective tissue of our nation, but there is not. There is only the scythe, ripping collective flesh and tendon, swung by a deranged reaper and those who saw fit to hand him the tools with which to do such damage.

I wish there were some way to blink really hard, like I used to do as a child when trapped in a nightmare, thereby finding release from the clutches of whatever monster was in hot pursuit. It worked every time in dreams. But sadly, this escape route began to fail me years ago, right around the time I discovered that some monsters are real, some dreams incapable of circumvention. Ever since I came to appreciate that some disasters must simply be faced.

I wish there were a refresh button like on the web browser, only this one situated atop the political system and its electoral process, which, when clicked, would load a different reality altogether. But there is no such button. There is no clearing the cache, so to speak.

There is no upside, no rosy scenario, no way to interpret what has happened but as a crushing defeat for the notion of multiracial and multicultural democracy, for religious pluralism, for sex and gender equity and for whatever advances were achieved over the past eight years–hell, in the past 80 years–in regard to these things. To suggest that everything will be okay is to traffic in empty platitudes the ultimate veracity of which we won’t know for some time, but whose accuracy at present should be considered quite a bit less promising than the projections of pollsters on election night. It will not be okay, and possibly for a long while.

Don’t get me wrong: The sun will rise and set, and babies will still laugh, and people will still fall in love. And in case you were wondering, there will still be music. Even comedy. Although, if it is true that comedy is tragedy plus time, we might need just a little more time. But as for the rest of it, well, that remains to be seen.

So first, remember to breathe.

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Tim Wise on the Rock Newman Show, 9/28/16: Police Violence, White Denial, Election 2016 and Movement Building in the Age of Trump

My appearance on the Rock Newman Show to discuss Donald Trump and the politics of prejudice, police accountability and violence, and movement building before and after the November 8 election.


Tim Wise on AM Joy (MSNBC), 9/24/16: Trump and the Racism of His Phony Black “Outreach”

Tim Wise appearance, 9/24/16 on MSNBC’s “AM Joy” with Joy Reid, Mark Thompson, Leah Wright Rigueur and Jimmy Williams to discuss Trump and the coded (or not-so-coded) racism of his “black outreach” efforts


Tim Wise on the Chauncey DeVega Show 8/19/16 – Trump, White Resentment, Electoral Politics and Crime (Among Other Things)

My appearance on the Chauncey DeVega Show, from August 19 — forgot to post earlier. Here we discuss the bright line connections between the David Duke campaigns of the early 90s and the Donald Trump campaign of 2016: what’s similar, what’s different, and what are the dangers ahead…Also we discuss broader issues of white racial resentment, the politics of race and crime, movement building and the unfortunate inadequacy of pure logic and facts when it comes to political organizing…among other things…


Tim Wise on WGN (Chicago), 9/2/16: Colin Kaepernick, Racism and the National Anthem

My appearance on WGN (Chicago’s) Morning News program, September 2, 2016, to discuss Colin Kaepernick, the National Anthem, and his ongoing protest against police violence. For some reason, the chyron at one point says Tim Wise: “Dear White People,” (the name of an excellent movie that I had nothing to do with), rather than “Dear White America,” the name of my book that they mentioned. They finally fix it in the last few minutes.


Patriotism is for Black People: Colin Kaepernick, Donald Trump and the Selectivity of White Rage

So just in case you were wondering, when a white man bellows that America is no longer great, and in fact is akin to a “third world” country, and that many other countries are better than we are at all kinds of things — and this is why we should elect him, so he can “make America great again,” because right now, we’re sorta suckin’ wind — that is the height of patriotism. The kind of talk we need! The kind of nationalistic endorsement around which all Americans should be willing to rally.

And when this same man says black people aren’t safe from other black people, and they can’t even walk down the street without getting shot by other black people, and that’s why they specifically should vote for him, so he can make their communities safe, that too is to be understood as a laudable commentary, even an ecumenical “outreach” to African Americans. Because black folks naturally love it when white men tell them how utterly degenerate is their daily existence, having spent exactly zero time in actual black communities so as to know what the hell they’re talking about.

However — and here’s where things get tricky — if a black man like 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refuses to stand for the national anthem because he feels the country hasn’t done right by black folks, and especially with regard to the unpunished killing of far too many by law enforcement, that is to be understood as treasonous, as grounds for his dismissal from his team, and as a justification to insist that he take his exit from the nation he apparently “hates.” Because after all, who would condemn conditions in America except for one who by definition hated it? (And as you ponder that query feel free to ignore the first two paragraphs above, as the maintenance of cognitive dissonance is incredibly valuable at times like this).

In short, white men (at least those on the right) can issue all manner of calumny against the United States. They can condemn its economics and its immigration policies; they can paint a picture of culturally defective black people as some underclass contagion within it; they can condemn it for not being sufficiently Christian, sufficiently militaristic, or sufficiently harsh on refugees. They can suggest that other countries are better at everything from infrastructure investment to trade negotiations, and still be viewed as fundamentally committed to the well-being of the country—indeed as presidential material, by millions.

But black folks cannot so much as open their mouths in criticism without the wrath of white America descending upon their shoulders. When they criticize — and especially if the criticism is about racism and inequality — they must be painted as hateful and petty. They must be told to leave because “there are millions who would gladly take their place,” and they must be made pariahs, symbolic of the lack of gratitude black people have for the country that has “given them” so much.

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No Real Angels in Hell: Police Violence, Black Lives and the White Obsession With Perfect Victims

It is increasingly apparent that white Americans hate the Constitution.

Not all white people and not the entire Constitution of course; but certainly a frightening lot of us and some of the most important parts. We love the Second Amendment — at least in so far as it protects our right to bear arms, even as we aren’t nearly so supportive of black folks trying to exercise theirs — but as for the quaint notions of due process or equal protection? Those are but trifles, orange cones on the highway of law and order, to which we are expected to pay some minor attention, but ultimately forget about in the name of the greater good.

And by greater good, I mean the apparent desire to rationalize virtually anything done to a black body by a blue-uniformed member of the nation’s law enforcement apparatus, usually by making note of the less-than-angelic history of the decedent before the bullets ripped flesh. Because to much of white America, only angels can be true victims and only saints deserve eulogy; and surely no lesser beings are deserving of the Constitutional guarantees referenced above, at least when the dead are black or brown. And so, in the most recent cases of Korryn Gaines and Paul O’Neal, we are instructed not to mourn them, and surely not to make them poster children for the black lives that we insist matter. After all, Gaines pointed a gun at officers and O’Neal stole a car, after which felony he proceeded to lead police on a chase. That both ended up dead is entirely their own fault, we are assured. To think otherwise is to make victims of criminals who brought their demise upon themselves. Surely we will soon hear this refrain again in the wake of yesterday’s shooting of an armed black man by Milwaukee police, which shooting touched off a night of violence in that city.

Theywerenoangels. Theywerenoangels. Theywerenoangels.

Say it three times in a mirror while spinning around on one leg, and then perhaps the ghost of Antonin Scalia or Andrew Breitbart will visit you and reassure you that all is right with the world. The scary black people are dead and we have to support our police and they do a dangerous job and you don’t want to do it and if your house was being robbed who would you call…a protester?

Of course there are fact patterns even amid this cacophony. And though they won’t matter to most of those who repeat the above formulations as if they were sacred omkara, perhaps it would do us well to remember them.

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Armed With a Loaded Footnote: How the Right Rationalizes Racial Disparity

Possibly the only thing worse than racism itself is the pseudo-intellectual way in which some seek to justify it. For instance, consider the standard conservative response to those of us who argue that the criminal justice system is the site of significant racialized unfairness. Whether the subject is racial profiling, stop-and-frisk rates, arrest rates, rates of incarceration, or the rates at which blacks are shot by police, those on the right are quick to dismiss disparities in these areas by claiming that because rates of criminal offending are higher in black communities, disparities in enforcement of the law are only to be expected.

This line of reasoning has been the default position, for instance, of conservative scholar Heather MacDonald, whose new book, The War On Cops, is but the latest in her years-long attempt to rationalize away any and all disparities in the justice system. According to MacDonald — who previously made this case so as to defend the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policies, and who now uses the same logic to justify disproportionate use of force against blacks by police — if rates of arrest, incarceration, and the rates at which blacks experience police force are consistent with rates of criminal offending, there is no evidence of racism.

But there are several problems, both theoretical and concrete, with these arguments.

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