‘White Like Me’ brings discussion of race to the West Valley campus
By Khalida Sarwari
If summer 2013 had a theme, race would likely be it.
From the highly publicized George Zimmerman case, which raised questions about racial justice, to the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and famous “I Have a Dream” speech, race has been discussed by everyone from TV pundits to the average Joe at the grocery store.
To bring that discussion to the forefront, West Valley College in Saratoga will host activist and author Tim Wise for a screening and discussion of his film White Like Me: Race, Racism and White Privilege in America.
The hour-long film is based on Wise’s book of the same name, subtitled Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, a personal account that examines white privilege and his conception of racism in American society through his experiences with his family and in his community.
“I thought since the college campus is 46 percent white and 3 percent of our population is black, it would be an important discussion to have on this campus,” said Maryanne Mills, outreach and instruction librarian at West Valley College.
Mills praised Wise’s book.
“He brings up a lot of points that I would never think about,” Mills said. “One example is the whole economic housing crisis. That actual occurrence happened in the early ’90s, but it was only happening to low-income black minorities. It wasn’t until the banks started going after middle class people and white suburbs that suddenly it became a problem.”
To fund the documentary film, Wise and the Media Education Foundation turned to Kickstarter to ask for help with raising $30,000. By the end of the Kickstarter campaign in June, they’d raised more than $41,000.
Mills said she chose to show the film at the school not only because she believes the issues that it addresses are timely, but also because it ties into the global awareness and diversity theme that is one of the college’s eight “institutional learning outcomes.”
“Every year we do something in the library that focuses on a theme. This year it will be a discussion on race,” she said. “This all really gelled for us in the July-August time period, and it just worked out well to have this movie coming out. It’s just being released this week, so we’ll be one of the first venues for this movie in the area.”
The film will be shown at the West Valley College Theater at 3 p.m. on Sept. 17 and will be followed by a conversation about white privilege and what it means in society today.
After the discussion, Wise will sign copies of three of his books, including White Like Me and Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority. The books will be sold for $15 each and all forms of payment will be accepted.
The event, which is being sponsored by the Global Citizenship Committee, Student Activities Center and the college library, is free and open to all.
Free parking will be available in parking lot 7 on Allendale Avenue. Anyone that requires ADA accommodations is encouraged to call 408.741.4661 by Sept. 10.