Friday, April 3, 2009

White Privilege: Tim Wise

Not long ago I posted a set of videos attacking the teaching of white privilege, among other things, at the University of Delaware. For this post in our ongoing series on white privilege, I decided to post a video that takes an opposite view. In this video, Tim Wise makes the case for the existence of white privilege.

I don't want to offer too much commentary here, but I do want to say that I appreciate the incorporation of historical context in his development of the concept. So watch, enjoy, and comment. Do you agree? What are the strengths and weaknesses in his argument?


Anonymous said...

Hey Kevin, this guy Wise is all passion and fury, making it hard to consider or even grasp his main point. I think it is that elite whites are using not so elite whites to divide and conquer, keep blacks down etc...bla bla bla. I have heard it all before and I'm still not buying it, but I am sure his angry lectures make Mr. Wise a popular figure on college campuses and I am sure he is doing OK. So perhaps Mr. Wise is just doing some exploiting of his own (of racial tensions) for personal gain. I would be interested in hearing or reading a more sober, deliberate and intellectual examination of this so called white privilege. Denis Navratil.

Kevin Lockett said...

My question to you would be this:
What specifically did he say that was inaccurate? What was factually incorrect?

Personally, when I study history and see poor blacks and whites not working together (labor unions in norther cities in the first decades of the 20th century provide another good example) it makes me sick, because I realize how much further this country could have gotten. Are you saying that these things didn't happen, or are you questioning their relative importance to the larger race issue?

Denis Navratil said...

Kevin, as to your questions, I don't know whether anything Wise said was inaccurate or incorrect. I haven't made a habit of, say, scrutinizing the rental laws in tiny neighborhoods in New Orleans. Ideology aside Kevin, do you tend to trust angry people when they argue? This guy is making a living being pissed off. So I suspect that his research consists of searching for info that supports the predetirmined solution. It is kind of like a Michael Moore film. Perhaps all factually correct points but the overall picture is distorted or, to put it another way, untrue. It is propaganda, not a serious look at an issue. Certainly I could scour the news for horrific things that black people have done to white people. They could all be true and I could use them to suggest that black people are terrible people etc... Of course I have no interest, financial or otherwise, in promoting distorted images of any people. I prefer reality.

Kevin Lockett said...

Either what he's saying is true or not (or certain parts are true and others are not, you get my point). If you don't like his presentation, that's fair, but it doesn't change the facts.

Either you think that there is privilege associated with being white in America or you don't. I wonder more what side of that issue you fall on, as opposed to issues with Wise's presentation. If you disagree with the substance of what he said, what particular parts do you disagree with?

Are you saying that his accounting of history is incorrect (in this instance the evolution of separate indenture and chattel slavery systems for white and black labor)? Or are you arguing that in today's world there are no significant advantages associated with being white? Or are you arguing something else totally different?