SRU welcomes Tim Wise for pair of ‘Courageous Conversations’ March 21

Tim Wise

March 16, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leadership Team will welcome author and prominent international anti-racism writer and educator Tim Wise to campus for a pair of lectures March 21.

Wise, who has spent the past 20 years speaking to collegiate audiences across the country, will meet with SRU student leaders at 4 p.m. to discuss "Youth and Student Activism," before hosting a campus-wide session at 7 p.m. at which he will present "Racism/Racial Justice and U.S. History" and "White Privilege in the U.S." Both sessions will be in the University Union's Multipurpose Room.

Well known for his speeches about how white people are unaware or misunderstand racism, Wise often cites a 1963 Gallup poll that found 60 percent of white people believed African-Americans were treated as equally as they were in their communities. The same poll swelled to 75 percent in 1967, the year before the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Fair Housing Act was signed into law.

"Even more tellingly, in 1962, 85 percent of whites told Gallup that black children had the same chance as white children to obtain a high quality education," Wise wrote in 2015. "Such beliefs might strike us as delusional in retrospect, of course, but that's the point: Unless we believe that white Americans have somehow become amazingly attuned to the experiences of persons of color in the last half-century (and more so than those people of color are, with regard to their own experiences) -- even as our parents and grandparents clearly failed to discern truth from fiction -- it seems that we should probably think twice before trusting white perceptions when it comes to the state of racial discrimination in this country."

Wise, who has spoken at more than 600 college campuses, uses his own privilege as a white male to educate other whites in how to recognize systematic racism and white privilege. He defines privilege as "not just a monetary or social condition, but really a psychological condition ... the ability to not have to think about one's identity on a regular basis" and having "immunity from negative treatment or judgment based solely on race."

In addition to the collegiate lecture circuit, Wise has trained corporate, government, entertainment, media, law enforcement, military and medical industry professionals on methods for dismantling racism in their institutions.

Wise has authored seven books, including his latest effort, "Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America."

Named one of "25 Visionaries Who are Changing Your World" by Utne Reader, Wise has contributed chapters or essays to more than 25 other books, while his writings are taught in colleges and universities across the nation. His essays have appeared on Alternet, Salon, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, The Root, Black Commentator, BK Nation and Z Magazine among other professional and scholarly journals.

From 1999-2003, Wise was an adviser to the Nashville-based Fisk University Race Relations Institute and in the early '90s served as a youth coordinator and associate director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and Nazism, the largest of many groups organized to defeat then neo-Nazi political candidate David Duke.

He has been featured in several documentaries, including 2013's "White Like Me: Race, Racism and White Privilege in America." The film, which Wise co-wrote and co-produced, has been called a "phenomenal educational tool in the struggle against racism," and "one of the best films made on the unfinished quest for racial justice," by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, of Duke University, and Robert Jensen, of the University of Texas, respectively.

Wise also appeared alongside scholar and activist Angela Davis in the 2011 documentary "Vocabulary of Change." In that piece, the pair discusses 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, who appears regularly on CNN and MSNBC to discuss race issues, graduated from Tulane University in 1990 and received anti-racism training from New Orleans-based People's Institute for Survival and Beyond.


MEDIA CONTACT: Robb King | 724.738.2199 | robert.king@sru.edu