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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Scholar claims racism still alive

Colin Prenger
Colin Prenger / Daily Wildcat Notable anti-racism scholar, Tim Wise, gave a lecture at the UA on Thursday. Wise was contracted by the Wildcat Events Board to speak to the community about gender, sex, and racial inequalities in the United States and other coutries.

Tim Wise, renowned social justice and anti-racist speaker, activist and writer, reminded the UA community to talk about race and acknowledge that everyone views life through their own lens.

Wise lectured on Thursday in the Student Union Memorial Center about the effects of racism and the social injustice that exists in America, today and in the past.

“Racism is something that affects everybody in different ways and in different levels,” said Margi Ault-Duell, education director at BorderLinks, a nonprofit organization that focuses on immigration issues. “But I’m as much a part of a racist system as everybody else.”

Fear is what keeps people from talking about race, Wise said. Being accused of “playing the race card” mutes people of color, while whites are afraid they might say the wrong thing, he said.

“Newsflash, most people of color already think there’s a pretty good damn chance you’re racist,” Wise said. “The more that we confirm the suspicions that people of color already have … the more we stand a chance.”

White anxiety — the growing fear that minorities are taking white Americans’ country from them — is a gradually growing concern for whites, he said. The election of President Barack Obama, he said, sparked a fear in white Americans because it was unusual and new.

“We’ve always been a multicultural piece of property, but we’ve never been an equitable piece of property,” Wise said.

The economy also fueled white anxiety. Seeing unemployment rates hit double digits for the first time since the Great Depression created insecurity. While people of color are used to high unemployment, it’s new to white people, Wise said.

Seeing a “multicultural popular culture” has also created a sense of fear in whites, Wise said. Not too long ago, he said, MTV wouldn’t show black people other than Michael Jackson.

“It’s not that they’re angry people and mean-spirited people,” Wise said. “But what’s happening is their sense of normalcy is being challenged.”

Health care reform and legislation like Arizona’s SB 1070, which would require all illegal immigrants to have registration documents in their possession at all times, Wise said, are attempts to “control the demographics.”

Wise also addressed ethnic studies in Tucson Unified School District, where Mexican-American books and classes have been banned because they “encourage grouping” and “demote individuality,” Wise said. Wise criticized school systems for shaping other histories in ways that would protect white privilege. He also emphasized the irony in the term “ethnic studies,” saying that any study of any people is a study of ethnicity.

“It never occurred to me that … ’Hey, I’m a minority but yet most of the people who are teaching me these things and most of my history books do carry a certain perspective on them,” said Michael Wilson, a political science junior.

Wise encouraged the audience to remind others that nobody can be objective, saying, “When we are willing to acknowledge our preconceived biases … we usually then and only then will go out of our way to try to get it right.”

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