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Tim Wise, antiracist essayist, author and educator spoke on campus Tuesday evening.
The event, took place from 7-9 p.m. Oct. 2 in Macky Auditorium and was organized by CU’s Cultural Events Board and consisted of a speech from Wise followed by a question and answer session.
Wise has authored 6 books, spoken in all 50 states and has spoken to more than 800 high school and college campuses. However, Tuesday’s speech was Wise’s first visit to both Boulder and the CU campus.
Characterized as “a discussion on race and privilege,” the talk brushed on sensitive subjects such as racism and “White America” in relation to healthcare, employment, and education.
Wise stated shocking statistics that demonstrated the prevalence of racial injustice in the country.
“In 35 years, if we get to that place with a 50/50 demographic, half white and half people of color, and we’re still a nation where half those people of color are still, as they are today –twice as likely as white folks to be out of work, three times as likely as white folks to be in poverty, and have on average, one-twentieth the net worth of white folks, double the rate of infant mortality, double the rate of low birth weight children born to moms, and nine years less life expectancy on average, we will not survive as a society for anyone,” said Wise.
Wise then addressed the history of “White America” in the United States.
“Nobody likes the past more than ‘White America’,” Wise said. “They love the past as long as it’s a past that makes us feel good –makes us feel superior. White folks generally have never really seen the problem.”
Wise noted many examples from his own personal experiences and revealed that his first realization of his “white privilege” occurred while he was a senior at Tulane University in New Orleans, La.
“Privilege leaves you ill prepared for life,” Wise said.
The discussion then focused on the upcoming election, in particular President Obama. According to Wise, President Obama never talks about his race because he doesn’t want to be unfairly represented.
“He [President Obama] knows that if he talks about it [race] he will be accused of playing the ‘race card’,” Wise said.
Wise discussed a range of topics that all related back to his primary message of racial inequality in the United States.
“Folks bashing the poor have never been the poor,” Wise said. “I will tell you without fear of contradiction, that some of the hardest working people I ever met in my life, and surely far harder working than the affluent and privileged mostly white kids I went to college with […] lived in public housing projects.”
Jasmin Torres, an 18-year-old freshman Integrated Physiology major, was impressed by Wise’s speech.
“I thought it was very powerful and true,” Torres said. “I’m a minority, so the way he diagnosed it made perfect sense. He made valid points.”
Alex Steinbach, a 19-year-old sophomore political science major, also agreed with Wise.
“I think he was right on everything, it was impressive,” Steinbach said. “It was good that he addressed that we need to talk about race and how we need to address each other as a multicultural society.”
Wise’s speech proved to be an informative look on the issue of race and left the crowd with a forward thinking message.
“I hope from this day forward you will stand for something different, something better,” Wise said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alyx Saupe at Alyx.email@example.com.