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Episode 57 - Affirmative Action, the Model Minority Myth & Right-Wing Divide-and-Conquer
October 14, 2019 09:33 AM PDT
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In this episode, taped live at the 2019 National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education, Tim and his panelists discuss the way in which Asian Americans have long been viewed by some as a "model minority," and how that framing papers over ongoing racism against all persons of color, incuding Asian folks.

Particular attention is given to the way in which this trope has been deployed by reactionary attorneys who brought the recent lawsuit against Harvard for its affirmative action programs.

By pointing to higher average test scores for Asian students, the lawsuit claims more qualified Asian Americans are being discriminated against in elite college admissions to make way for black and Latino students with lower test scores. This argument rests on any number of false assumptions, but is a cynical and effective way to divide people of color by pitting them against one another, rather than engaging all such students in a fight for greater equity and access.

Tim's guests for this panel -- who are introduced in the panel itself -- were Dr. Helen Zia, Dr. David Pilgrim, Dr. Mary Danico and Dr. Nolan Cabrera.

Episode 56 - When Hate Comes to Campus: Responding to the New White Nationalism in the Age of Trump
July 30, 2019 05:55 PM PDT
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In this episode, taped live at the 2019 National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE), Tim and his panel discuss the rise of overt racist and white nationalist organizing in America, and especially on college campuses.

With groups like Identity Europa actively recruiting college students, and with young people especially susceptible to right-wing radicalization via internet-based hate forums, it will be important for colleges—as places of learning and as spaces ostensibly committed to pluralism and equity—to devise strategies for responding to the upsurge of racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic and anti-Semitic activity.

Panelists will explore the causes for resurgent white nationalism, controversies regarding free speech/hate speech as they pertain to this new threat, and various institutional responses that colleges and universities will need to explore in order to meet the challenge.

Panelists include: Scot Nakagawa, Lindsey Schubiner, Rahuldeep Gill and Tim Wise

Episode 55 - Antifa: Myths and Realities with Daryle Lamont Jenkins
June 25, 2019 12:30 PM PDT
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In this episode, Tim speaks with Daryle Lamont Jenkins, founder of One People's Project and a leading figure in the American antifa (anti-fascist) movement.

With so much misinformation about antifa in mainstream corporate media, Tim and Daryle take the opportunity to discuss what antifa is and what it isn't; to discuss various tactics of antifa, from releasing the personal information of white supremacists to confronting Nazis in the streets. Do these tactics help or hurt the cause? Are there limits to the tactics? And what is the goal of antifa?

Additionally Wise and Jenkins discuss why ignoring fascists doesn't work, the overlap between extreme and mainstream right-wing figures and movements, and why there are even people of color and Jews in neo-fascist and white supremacist movements nowadays.

An important and enlightening discussion in the age of Trumpism

Episode 54 - Redemption & Restoration for the Formerly Incarcerated: A Conversation with Bettie Kirkland of Project Return
May 14, 2019 10:04 AM PDT
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On this episode, Tim speaks with Bettie Kirkland of Project Return: a Nashville-based non-profit that has been working for forty years to help formerly incarcerated persons find jobs, and most recently housing, despite the oftentimes substantial barriers they face to both.

Tim and Bettie discuss Project Return’s efforts over the years, how their work can help break down persistent stereotypes about the formerly incarcerated, and why a model of redemption and restoration is so much more logical than a model of punitiveness and shame—the latter of which, sadly, too often predominates in the criminal justice system.

They also reflect on the recently passed First Steps Act—the criminal justice reform bill signed by President Trump—and how activists can hopefully use its passage as adrenaline for further reforms, rather than allowing it to become anesthesia, lulling us into a false sense of security that the problems of the justice system have been solved with one piece of rather limited legislation.

Episode 53 - Dying of Whiteness: A Conversation with Scholar Jonathan Metzl
April 02, 2019 01:54 PM PDT
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In this episode, Tim speaks with Dr. Jonathan Metzl, a professor of sociology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, and the author of the new book, Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland. In his groundbreaking volume, Metzl sets out to explore and answer the question: why do working class and struggling white Americans so often seem to vote against their own interests? Electing politicians who vote against public health care initiatives (like Obamacare) from which they themselves would benefit? Or politicians who vote for fewer restrictions on gun availability even as white gun suicide rates skyrocket? Or politicians who vote to cut funding from education budgets upon which they themselves depend?

Wise and Metzl discuss the latter’s explosive findings from months of research in Tennessee, Kansas and Missouri—findings that illuminate how white fear (of black criminals, of “wasting” tax dollars on people of color, and of squandered resources in “urban” school districts) lead many whites to support right-wing policies that only make their own lives less livable. As one white man in Metzl’s study, who was dying of an untreated illness but couldn’t afford health care, put it: he would rather die than go on Obamacare, because he doesn’t support tax dollars going to welfare recipients and “illegals.” That man, who indeed has since died, is perhaps the best (but hardly the only) example of how white racial resentment harms not only its intended targets, but ultimately can destroy whites as well.

A powerful and illuminating conversation about a critical topic, this episode of Speak Out With Tim Wise will force us to ask the critical question: can we build a movement for justice in a nation where whites are so blinded by racial resentments and anxieties as to not even care for their own well-being, to say nothing of the well being of others? And if we are to build such a movement, what will it take to overcome the politics of resentment so aptly chronicled in Metzl’s research?

Episode 52: Palestine/Israel, the Firing of Marc Lamont Hill & the Limits of Open Inquiry
December 04, 2018 02:51 PM PST
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On this episode, Tim discusses CNN’s firing of contributor Marc Lamont Hill (a former guest on the show), for comments he made in favor of full equality and justice for the Palestinian people.

Hill’s words, misinterpreted as a call for violence against Israeli Jews, have demonstrated not only the intellectual dishonesty of some of Israel’s most militant defenders, but also the limits of open inquiry and dialogue around the pressing issue of Middle East peace. In this reflection on Hill’s firing, Wise examines the way his own critique of Zionism has resulted in professional pushback and attacks over the years, and explores the way in which the conflation of anti-Zionist thought with anti-Semitism is not only rooted in ignorance but actually results in greater danger for Jews around the world.

Unless and until we can separate Zionism as a political movement from Judaism as an ethnic/cultural and religious community, not only will Jews themselves/ourselves be unwilling to sufficiently criticize Israel, but anti-Semites will conflate the two in a way that ultimately, and ironically, makes Jews less safe. In short, the silencing of pro-Palestinian narratives is not only bad for Palestinians, but when done so as to “protect” the interests of Jews, actually makes everyone including Jews, worse off.

Episode 51 - Analyzing the Midterms: What Do They Mean for Progressives, the Democrats & the Fight Against Trumpism?
November 07, 2018 03:34 PM PST
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Well the midterm elections are over and the Democrats have retaken the House of Representatives, though losing ground in the Senate. What do the outcomes of key races mean for the Democratic Party, the battle against Trumpism and the future of the country? In this episode, Tim breaks down the good, the bad and the ugly of the midterms, and discusses what progressive forces need to do (and not do) in the wake of the election.

Episode 50: Donald Trump, the Myth of Meritocracy and Building Solidarity Through Radical Humility
October 23, 2018 12:17 PM PDT
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The recent New York Times expose on the Trump family—and how Donald’s father passed along hundreds of millions of dollars to his son—has once again exposed the way great wealth is often the result not of hard work and talent, but inheritance and intergenerational handouts. Although the focus of the story was on the Trumps, its value goes well beyond piercing the veil of self-dealing and occasional graft at the heart of one family’s empire. The narrative of “rugged individualism” and the myth of meritocracy—the idea that people “make it” or don’t based on talent and hard work—is firmly ingrained in the American psyche. Exposing the falsity of the notion as it regards the Trumps can allow us to examine the broader concept as it regards the rest of us and the society we share.

In this extended commentary, I explore the reasons why the notion of meritocracy is so compelling, psychologically, even for folks who are struggling. I also examine the evidence suggesting the notion is more mythical than real, and then delve into why the mythology is actually dangerous for most Americans, both individually and in terms of the kind of society people beholden to the concept end up creating.

Finally, I offer a method for progressives to push back against the notion of meritocracy and individualism, which can begin to chip away at this key stumbling block to solidarity: namely, a radical and transparent humility about our own stories. By acknowledging our own path—the unearned advantages we had, perhaps because of economic status or racial privilege, or even the luck and serendipity over which we had little control—we can forge an honesty that makes it harder to judge those below us and less likely that we’ll undeservedly praise those above. And by sharing our stories with others, we can build sustainable movements rooted in humility and a sense of collective purpose, both of which are critical to the creation of a more just society.

Episode 49 - Talking About Race in a Time of Turmoil: Dr. David Campt on the White Ally Toolkit for Constructive Dialogue
October 09, 2018 06:41 AM PDT
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On today’s episode, I speak with Dr. David Campt, racial dialogue facilitator, educator, and creator of the new White Ally Toolkit Workbook, which aims to provide white folks with the rhetorical and practical tools they need to engage other whites around issues of racial equity.

At a time of increasing political and racial division, the importance of white progressives and so-called “woke” folks knowing how to speak to (and with) those whose awareness of race issues is limited—or who steadfastly repel from the idea that racism is really an issue of importance at all—has never been greater. In their conversation, David and Tim explore why it’s so hard for some white progressives to speak to conservatives about these issues, why its important to figure out a way to do so, and what rhetorical and narrative tools are most effective for the purpose of ratcheting down partisan and ideological hostility, while possibly building bridges across philosophical divides.

So whether you’re interested in facilitating large scale group dialogues at your school, your place of worship or in your community, or just looking for practical advice about how to speak to that difficult family member at Thanksgiving, this is an episode you don’t want to miss.

Episode 48: Educational Inequity is a Feature not a Glitch: Racism and Schooling in America
September 19, 2018 02:21 PM PDT
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On this episode — the last before returning to the regular interview format of the program — please enjoy Tim's presentation to the teachers, staff and administrators of the Cahokia Illinois School district on August 31 of this year.

In this presentation, he discusses the ways that racial and ecnomic inequities in education, far from indicating failures in the system, actually suggest that inequality is a desired and deliberate outcome of schooling, and has been for many years. Herein, Wise explores the role techers can play in challenging that system of inequity, the importance of adopting a paradigm of schooling that focuses on collective liberation rather than individual accomplishment, and discuss the problems with colorblindness as a method for eduating children of color.

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