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Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority…

Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority (City Lights Open Media) (edition 2012)

by Tim Wise

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1073163,124 (4.1)1
Title:Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority (City Lights Open Media)
Authors:Tim Wise
Info:City Lights Publishers (2012), Edition: 1, Paperback, 190 pages
Collections:Your library

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Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority (City Lights Open Media) by Tim Wise



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I read this short polemic in conjunction with watching Mr. Wise's lecture, The Pathology of Privilege: Racism, White Denial and Costs of Inequality (Wise, et al., 2008) on the recommendation of a respected member of my faculty whom I consider a mentor. I am grateful for the recommendation. Mr. Wise is an activist and scholar who makes us uncomfortable in order to confront the reality of our American society - racism is not dead, but alive and well.

I have read this book and watched his lecture at a time when Ann Coulter, a reprehensible pundit of the Murdock FoxNews dynasty, co-opted the social media activist message, #BringBackOurGirls, supporting the return of 200 kidnapped Nigerian girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram. Coulter posted a "selfie" with the words #BringBackOurCountry. The posting was largely a failure as liberals photoshopped the selfie to mock Coulter and her message, and to punch back at her vicious form of anti-liberal, anti-progressive satire. At this time, I could not have needed Mr. Wise more for his insight into exactly what such conservatives as Coulter want our country to return to.

Mr. Wise states that most who reminisce on what America once was are remembering the time around 1957. This was the time when all the people on television sets were white, families were projected as wholesome, and the American system benefitted hard-working people without large government or heinous taxes. Unfortunately, these individuals have mythologized this era obscuring the fact that taxes at that time were high (91% for incomes over $200,000/year for a single person and $400,000/year for a married couple) and big government entitlements like Social Security, the GI Bill, and VA home loans were heralded, loved, and more importantly, not available to people of color. It was a time remembered and cherished because while taxes were high, white people received the largesse of the benefits.

This system changed with the Civil Rights Movement. When people of color fought for and won access to white benefits there was a backlash. All of a sudden government entitlements had to be earned and people of color were lazy.

Lazy. That is a misused adverb. Wise points out that for centuries whites all over the world have pursued a life of leisure happy to subjugate, enslave, terrorize, misuse, and mistreat others to get them to do the hard work privileged white people staunchly avoid. Yet, with the Civil Rights Movement came the feeling that if a white person could not succeed it was because of the unearned compensations handed out to people of color (listen to: http://www.npr.org/2014/05/18/313618309/poverty-a-frustrating-mix-of-bad-choices...). Since Civil Rights made bigotry unacceptable, the truth must be rewritten and edited. And, rewrite and edit the likes of Coulter indeed do. The Tea Party, the "patriots" so fanatic about their strict Constitutionalism, often omit from their public readings of the sacred document the provisions protecting slavery inserted by our forefathers - those wonderful, white, slave-owning men so highly worshipped in our society wrote the laws as a means to ensure their supremacy. Wise is certain the America Coulter and her like-minded patriots want to return to is one that upholds white supremacy. I concur and the truth hurts.

Wise makes us think and he pulls no punches. In his lecture in which he mentions the March on Washington, he mocks, "..an event that every white liberal alive now claims to have attended..." making us realize that liberals are just as responsible for the climate of racism that is fostered. Whites are happy to go along, sometimes struggling, but always knowing that the image of the "All-American Boy" and the "All-American Girl" looks just like the person staring back at them in the mirror. We are happy to go along knowing that the rules of working hard and getting an education ensure we have a good chance to succeed even while the rules do not apply to hard-working, educated people of color. And when whites are hurt by the economic recession caused by greedy white men, it is only the entitled pain of white people that counts. It does us good to remember the Occupy movement was just as white as the predominantly white Tea Party.

No, racism is not dead in America. Racism is as entrenched as ever. So, what are we going to do about it?

Wise, T. J., Jhally, S., Young, J. T., Rabinovitz, D., & Media Education Foundation. (2008). The pathology of privilege: Racism, white denial & the costs of inequality. Northampton, MA: Media Education Foundation. ( )
  Christina_E_Mitchell | Sep 9, 2017 |
As the author states in the introduction, those who would most benefit from reading this book will never open its pages for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons is white America's wish to cling to a false nostalgic history that whitewashes (pun intended) some of our society's most nefarious deeds done for the purpose of continued white supremacy. I had previously read Tim Wise's "White Like Me," which is his memoir. It opened my eyes to institutionalized racism, and how I have benefited in this society just by virtue of being born white. (For instance, I've never been pulled over for driving-while-black.)Everyone would benefit from reading the works of Tim Wise, because no matter how liberal and open minded you may think your are, there are always other truths to be learned.

This open letter to the "new minority" is a brilliant polemic, told using historical data (notes in the back) and a passion well needed for the cause of anti-racism. Most of us have seen the emails passed around between conservatives, showing President Obama as a witch doctor, or a pimp. Just recently a pastor of a church in Georgia, hung an effigy of our first black president from a gallows built on the front lawn of his church. Ignorance does not die easy. I wish I could put this open letter by Tim Wise into the hands of a few friends and relatives, but -- knowing that it would merely collect dust -- I will instead use the information to be better informed myself, and to face our society a little more clear-eyed. ( )
  hayduke | Apr 3, 2013 |
One of the best books I've ever read. It is not an academic treatise about race relations, but rather a conversational letter to white America about the racial issues that continue to plague this country and the responsibility that the white majority bear for creating and perpetuating them. The author is not afraid to be brutally honest in his examination of the privileges of white America. It's also a quick and easy read. ( )
  rosielibrarian | May 30, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0872865215, Paperback)

"Sparing neither family nor self . . . he considers how the deck has always been stacked in his and other white people's favor. . . . His candor is invigorating."—Publishers Weekly

"One of the most brilliant, articulate and courageous critics of white privilege in the nation."—Michael Eric Dyson

White Americans have long been comfortable in the assumption that they are the cultural norm. Now that notion is being challenged, as white people wrestle with what it means to be part of a fast-changing, truly multicultural nation. Facing chronic economic insecurity, a popular culture that reflects the nation’s diverse cultural reality, a future in which they will no longer constitute the majority of the population, and with a black president in the White House, whites are growing anxious.

This anxiety has helped to create the Tea Party movement, with its call to "take our country back." By means of a racialized nostalgia for a mythological past, the Right is enlisting fearful whites into its campaign for reactionary social and economic policies.

In urgent response, Tim Wise has penned his most pointed and provocative work to date. Employing the form of direct personal address, he points a finger at whites’ race-based self-delusion, explaining how such an agenda will only do harm to the nation’s people, including most whites. In no uncertain terms, he argues that the hope for survival of American democracy lies in the embrace of our multicultural past, present and future.

Tim Wise is one of the most prominent antiracist essayists, educators, and activists in the United States. He is regularly interviewed by A-list media, including CNN, C-SPAN, The Tavis Smiley Show, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, Michael Eric Dyson's radio program, and many more. His most recent books include Colorblind and Between Barack and a Hard Place.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:01 -0400)

"Tim Wise addresses whites' anxiety about cultural shifts displacing their power and privilege--and offers ideas on how to move forward"--

(summary from another edition)

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