In this interview, City Lights Publicity Director Stacey Lewis talks with Tim Wise about post-racial liberalism, anti-racist training in the workplace, and how to bring color consciousness into our own lives.
Following the civil rights movement, race relations in the United States entered a new era. Legal gains were interpreted by some as ensuring equal treatment for all and that "colorblind" policies and programs would be the best way forward. Since then, many voices have called for an end to affirmative action and other color-conscious policies and programs, and even for a retreat from public discussion of racism itself.
Bolstered by the election of Barack Obama, proponents of colorblindness argue that the obstacles faced by blacks and people of color in the United States can no longer be attributed to racism but instead result from economic forces. Thus, they contend, programs meant to uplift working-class and poor people are the best means for overcoming any racial inequalities that might still persist. In Colorblind, Tim Wise refutes these assertions and advocates that the best way forward is to become more, not less, conscious of race and its impact on equal opportunity.
Focusing on disparities in employment, housing, education and healthcare, Wise argues that racism is indeed still an acute problem in the United States today, and that colorblind policies actually worsen the problem of racial injustice. Colorblind presents a timely and provocative look at contemporary racism and offers fresh ideas on what can be done to achieve true social justice and economic equality.
Praise for Colorblind:
"I finally finished Tim Wise's Colorblind and found it a right-on, straight-ahead piece of work. This guy hits all the targets, it's really quite remarkable . . . That's two of his that I've read [the first being Between Barack] and they are both works of crystal truth . . ."—Mumia Abu-Jamal, author of Have Black LIves Ever Mattered
"Tim Wise's Colorblind is a powerful and urgently needed book. One of our best and most courageous public voices on racial inequality, Wise tackles head on the resurgence and absurdity of post-racial liberalism in a world still largely structured by deep racial disparity and structural inequality. He shows us with passion and sharp, insightful, accessible analysis how this imagined world of post racial framing and policy can't take us where we want to go—it actually stymies our progress toward racial unity and equality."—Tricia Rose, Brown University, author of The Hip Hop Wars
"With Colorblind, Tim Wise offers a gutsy call to arms. Rather than play nice and reiterate the fiction of black racial transcendence, Wise takes the gloves off: He insists white Americans themselves must be at the forefront of the policy shifts necessary to correct our nation's racial imbalances in crime, health, wealth, education and more. A piercing, passionate and illuminating critique of the post-racial moment."—Bakari Kitwana, author of The Hip-Hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crises in African American Culture
"Tim Wise's Colorblind brilliantly challenges the idea that the election of Obama has ushered in a post-racial era. In clear, engaging, and accessible prose, Wise explains that ignoring problems does not make them go away, that race-bound problems require race-conscious remedies. Perhaps most important, Colorblind proposes practical solutions to our problems and promotes new ways of thinking that encourage us to both recognize differences and to transcend them."—George Lipsitz, author of The Possessive Investment in Whiteness
"At every turn and every corner, in every crevice and every crack, Tim Wise debunks the mythology of a 'Color Blind' society with the vigor of a statistician and the passion befitting one of the preeminent anti-racist theorists working today. You will literally lose your breath trying to keep up with the ways that Wise lays waste to the idea that we've achieved anything close to a 'post-race' society. If you don't know who Tim Wise is, you will after this book."–Mark Anthony Neal, author of New Black Man and Professor of African & African-American Studies at Duke University
"A phenomenal book, a great read, you definitely want to check out."—Roland Martin, Tom Joyner Show & CNN
Tim Wise is one of the most prominent antiracist essayists, educators and activists in the United States. For twenty years he has challenged racial inequities as a community organizer, public speaker, workshop facilitator and writer. He has spoken to hundreds of thousands of people, contributed essays or chapters to more than twenty books, and has appeared regularly on radio and television as a guest commentator on race issues. He is regularly interviewed by national media, including CNN, Tavis Smiley and by Tom Joyner. He is the author of White Like Me (Soft Skull), and four books published in the City Lights Open Media Series including Dear White America, Colorblind, Under the Affluence, and Between Barack and a Hard Place.