Over 400 students, faculty, administrators and members of the community packed the WVC Theater on Tuesday 17 September 2013 to screen Tim Wise‘s newly released film White Like Me. Wise, a well known anti-racist educator and activist, spoke eloquently and with broad knowledge about the politics, policies, culture, and history that have shaped racism and white privilege in the United States. His film asks momentous and complex questions: What does it mean to be white? Is the United States currently a “post-racial” society? Should we aspire to be “color-blind”? Wise roots his book of the same title, and this film, in the well-intentioned experiment by John Howard Griffin, a white man who in 1959 darkened the color of his skin so that he could understand what life was like for blacks in the southern United States. Griffin detailed his experiences in a book, titled Black Like Me (published 1960), and a film, Black Like Me (released in 1964). Wise takes Griffin’s premise and turns it around by asking, what is it like to be white in the United States? This question prompts all of us to consider how and why the privilege inherent in being white has impacted racism in the United States from its very beginning.
At the end of his conversation with the audience, Wise signed copies of his books, Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority and White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son (the basis of the film).
The follow-up conversation with Tim Wise can be seen here.
This event was free and open to everyone. It was organized by faculty members in the WVC Library, the WVC Global Citizenship Committee, and funded by the WVC Library, the GCC, and the office of the WVC Director of Student Activities.