Between Barack and a Hard Place

Between Barack and a Hard Place
Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama




Related News

Racism and the President

CNN's Fredricka Whitfield discusses racism with Tim Wise, author of Between Barack and A Hard Place.

-Fredricka Whitfield, CNN Sep 16, 2009

Jay Marvin Best of Interviews Week

"David is joined by Tim Wise to talk about his latest piece on Counterpunch called Red Baiting and Racism. Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the U.S. He is the author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, and Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White. A collection of his essays, Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections From an Angry White Male, was published in the Fall of 2008, and his fourth book, Between Barack and a Hard Place: Race and Whiteness in the Age of Obama, was released this spring. He received the 2001 British Diversity Award for best essay on race issues, and his writings have appeared in dozens of popular, professional and scholarly journals. Wise has been a guest on hundreds of radio and television programs, worldwide. www.timwise.org www.counterpunch.org."

-Colorado's Progressive Talk

What Matters

"Tim Wise asks when the Republican Party is going to reject the racist rhetoric and dog-whistle politics coming from the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and other right wing radio and television hosts."

-CNN/Essence Sep 12, 2009

Tim Wise on Racism 2.0

"Tim Wise isn't your average white guy. The author and activist, who began his work as an organizer with the Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and Nazism, has spent the last three decades combating racism from within 'the belly of the beast of whiteness,' as he puts it. In his new book, Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama, Wise reflects on what he calls Racism 2.0—a new brand of white supremacy that operates under the guise of post-racialism. He talked with ColorLines about his approach to racial justice activism and the challenges and possibilities advocates face under the new administration."

-Michelle Chen, Colorlines Sep 1, 2009

Is race a factor?

"Tim Wise, author of White Like Me, talks to CNN's Don Lemon about clues that some [healthcare] opposition is rooted in race."

-CNN Aug 16, 2009

Is it real or imagined?

"A discussion on racial assumptions in America after the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Gates Jr." With Tim Wise.

-CNN Jul 26, 2009

Off the Deep End

"On the one hand, racism is so deeply embedded in the history and structure of the United States, that it shouldn't be particularly surprising when a story emerges, indicating that indeed, said racism has bubbled to the surface yet again.

But on the other hand, sometimes a story finds its way into the public realm, which is of such a profoundly disturbing nature, that you can't help but do a double-take: the kind of story that makes you go, huh? What the hell did I just read? Like for sure you must have seen that headline wrong. Like you must have been teleported back in time fifty years or more, to a period when folks didn't even feel the need to pretend they were racially enlightened. Like you must be hallucinating, or perhaps this is a satire you're reading, maybe something from The Onion? And then you realize, nope, it's for real.

And so it was yesterday, when a swim club on the outskirts of Philadelphia made the news after expelling from their pool a summer camp group of approximately sixty kids of color from the city. Not because they had done anything wrong--no bad behavior, no inappropriate conduct, nothing like that, as they had just arrived and most of the children hadn't even had a chance to enter the pool yet--and not because they had crashed the private environs uninvited (the camp had paid over $1900 for the right to swim there once a week), but because, as club president, John Duesler explained in a letter: the kids would "change the complexion and atmosphere" of the club. Got that? The complexion."

-Tim Wise, CounterPunch Jul 13, 2009

Hey Dude, Where's My Privilege? Race and Lawbreaking in Black and White
"Just like there is very little in the way of law enforcement response when white college students riot on their campuses, as they have done over 150 times in the past fifteen years, and never over important political matters of social injustice, or war, but rather, because of the outcomes of sporting events or crackdowns on underage drinking. White folks, you see, get pissed when you interrupt our right to party."
-Tim Wise, Znet May 19, 2009

When Exceptions Prove the Rule: Poverty, Whiteness and Privilege

"As someone who writes regularly on the subject of white privilege, I am often electronically attacked by those who insist that the very notion of such a thing is a mere figment of my imagination: well, mine, and that of all the other 'race hustlers' out there. 'Don't you know that millions of white people are poor?' they typically ask, suggesting by virtue of the question that if the answer is yes (and of course it is, as I am well aware), then white privilege is obviously a myth . . . The simple truth is, working people are not all in the same boat, and white working class folks have real advantages. Black and Latino workers are typically the first fired in an economic downturn, and remain twice as likely to be unemployed and 3-4 times as likely to be poor, in good times or bad; and white high school dropouts are twice as likely to find work as similarly uneducated African Americans."

-Tim Wise, Air America Mar 27, 2009

Lecturer drops 'Wise' notions on racism

"President Barack Obama didn't play the race card during his campaigns, but Tim Wise clearly had no issue discussing it. Wise spoke to a full Mabel Brown Room Wed., March 25. Both the first and second floors of the room were filled with students, professors and people from across the country ready to listen."

-Will Wrobel, The Equinox Apr 2, 2009

Activist says U.S. still needs to battle racism

"When anti-racism writer, activist and speaker Tim Wise was recruited to speak at the University of Utah before the school year began, he was certain he'd be giving his standard speech about racism and white privilege.

However, the November election of Barack Obama as president of the United States changed that, or at least made Wise's topic somewhat more complicated. When he addressed a crowd of students as part of the Voices Social Justice Speakers Series, Wise said that although a black American was elected, racism and white privilege still abound."

-Wendy Leonard, Deseret News Mar 11, 2009

Holder's Much Touted Speech on Race Lets White People Off the Hook

"It was all too predictable that Attorney General Eric Holder would be attacked for his recent remarks about race in America. To suggest that the nation is still haunted by the specter of racism is unacceptable it seems, especially since, with the election of President Barack Obama, we have ostensibly entered the 'post-racial' era."

-Tim Wise, Alternet Mar 2, 2009

Interview with Tim Wise

Interview with Tim Wise on Air America's "The Ring of Fire" hosted by Robert F.  Kennedy Jr. and Mike Papantonio.

-The Ring of Fire, Air America Feb 28, 2009

Interview/podcast with Tim Wise on Obama Effect on Race

Activist and author Tim Wise talks with KCBS' Melissa Culross about continuing racism and discrimination in the age of Barack Obama.

-KCBS Feb 28, 2009

Tim Wise, an invaluable political voice

"I heard Tim Wise speak about racism and white privilege about 10 years ago. He impressed me with his insightful critique and depth of knowledge on these topics, but since then, my mind had always boxed him into the category of "antiracist" and nothing more. That just changed. I heard him interviewed on KCSB a few minutes ago, and was thoroughly impressed by the depth of his analysis of politics and social movements as well. Whether you are a liberal who is hopeful that Obama will change this country, or a radical who scoffs at the notion, or someone else who is just curious about U.S. politics and racism in 2009, I highly encourage you to check this guy out. His new book is Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama."

-Jeremy Orhan Singer, Engaged: Politics, Poetics and Miscellany Feb 27, 2009

Color-Blind, Power-Oblivious: Eric Holder and the Whitewashing of Racism

"It was all too predictable that Attorney General Eric Holder would be attacked for his recent remarks about race in America. To suggest that the nation is still haunted by the specter of racism is unacceptable it seems, especially since, with the election of President Obama, we have ostensibly entered the 'post-racial' era."

-Tim Wise, LA Progressive Feb 27, 2009

Whiteness, White Privilege, & Racism in the age of Obama. Tim Wise lays it down.

"'To be White in America, is to never at any point, to have to have known what People of Color experience…. When your stuff is the stuff that's considered the norm against which everybody else’s stuff is compared (and usually found to be lacking) you don’t have to give it a racial designation, you don’t have to call it 'White Literature,' you can just call it Literature, you don’t have to call it 'White Poetry,' its just Poetry… this is why we don’t have White History Month….' – TIm Wise 

For the end of Black History Month, I am going to draw attention to whiteness. Yes, I am going to write about white folks for Black History Month."

-Eric Camins, World Up Feb 27, 2009

Eric Holder and the Whitewashing of Racism

"It was all too predictable that Attorney General Eric Holder would be attacked for his recent remarks about race in America. To suggest that the nation is still haunted by the specter of racism is unacceptable it seems, especially since, with the election of President Obama, we have ostensibly entered the "post-racial" era.

But in truth, the nation's chief law enforcement officer deserves criticism more for what he didn't say than for what he did."

-Tim Wise, Counter Punch Feb 26, 2009

Color-Blind, Power-Oblivious: Eric Holder and the Whitewashing of Racism

"It was all too predictable that Attorney General Eric Holder would be attacked for his recent remarks about race in America. To suggest that the nation is still haunted by the specter of racism is unacceptable it seems, especially since, with the election of President Obama, we have ostensibly entered the "post-racial" era.

But in truth, the nation's chief law enforcement officer deserves criticism more for what he didn’t say than for what he did."

-Tim Wise, The Black Commentator Feb 26, 2009

Annual multi-cultural conference expands: Students, faculty and staff examine the meaning of privilege in society.

"Towson hosted its 15th Annual Multicultural Conference Thursday in the University Union, featuring Tim Wise, a prominent anti-racism activist and author.

Wise opened the first session of the academic event, which drew more than 700 people throughout the day.

'Tim Wise's talk first thing in the morning began the conference off in a powerful way,' Paz Galupo, director of the Institute for Academic Diversity and Inclusion at Towson, said in an e-mail. 'I believe people were energized and that carried over into the sessions.'"

-Karen Hoobler, The Towerlight

Racism in the Age of Obama

"Today, the New York Post published a cartoon by artist Sean Delonas that is flagrantly racist. . . . I am not outraged or disappointed. These sorts of reports will continue to bubble up and out over the next four years. I will however call them like I see them: Racism extraordinaire or Racism 1.5 to co-opt a concept from Tim Wise's new book, Between Barack and a Hard Place. A great read."

-Butterfly Pages Feb 18, 2009

New stuff from Tim Wise: Race and The Power Of Whiteness

"Imagine if you will a 40 year old black male, coming through security at Boston's Logan airport. He's looking a bit younger than his middle-aged self, due in large measure to the clothes he's wearing: a black hoodie, jeans and sneakers. These seem, at least in his mind, to balance out the creases and crevices that occasionally appear on his face, hidden though most of them are beneath his beard. It isn't that he's trying, per se, to look younger. But to feel younger, oh sure, and wardrobe is a far less expensive and pathetic way to accomplish this end than say, botox or a lid lift."

-Jimmeh Feb 18, 2009

'Sick and Tired' of wife-beaters: Pop violence against women

"Many focus their aggression towards rightfully weeding out thin charges of racism, yet so much so that they deny their own potential contributions towards racial healing. And while I've had my share of do-gooding white folks crying on my shoulder, plying for forgiveness, a treatise of racism should bring more to bear than an ego trip. To be clear, white guilt, and eschewing any discussion of race- what I call the undercover assimilationist, salad-bowl diversity model- are both steeped in the privilege of ignorance, certainly entangled in hierarchy associated with class, gender and race. Failing to explicitly talk about race ignores voices like Tim Wise, a southern white man who breaks whiteness down in words and candor unmatched by any finger pointing Negro or do-gooding white.  I am hard pressed to believe that there is nothing in between. The masculine face of violence, too, has such a normal and accepted voice."

—Diepiriye Kuku 

-Sound Affects Music Blog, PopMatters Feb 18, 2009

Sorry for the Inconvenience: Race & the Power of Whiteness (Case Study #399)

"Imagine if you will a 40 year old black male, coming through security at Boston's Logan airport. He's looking a bit younger than his middle-aged self, due in large measure to the clothes he's wearing: a black hoodie, jeans and sneakers. These seem, at least in his mind, to balance out the creases and crevices that occasionally appear on his face, hidden though most of them are beneath his beard. It isn't that he's trying, per se, to look younger. But to feel younger, oh sure, and wardrobe is a far less expensive and pathetic way to accomplish this end than say, botox or a lid lift.

He only has one bag with him, a briefcase, having checked his other luggage at the ticket counter. As the one carry-on makes its way through the x-ray machine, something anomalous strikes the screener's eye.

'Do you mind if we take a look inside your bag?' the young Latina TSA employee asks.

'Of course not,' comes the reply. The black traveler thinks to himself, 'probably those damned computer cords all jumbled up in there. I really ought to pack those more neatly next time.'"

-Tim Wise Feb 16, 2009

Tim Wise's newest book: Between Barack and a Hard Place

"I am eager to read this, the latest book by radical anti-white supremacy ally Tim Wise. In the mean time, here's a piece written by him on the politics of the electability of Barack Obama, and what the his candidacy revealed about U.S. whites and white supremacy in Amerikkka. (Note: this was written almost one year ago.)"

-A Radical Profeminist Jan 27, 2009

Obama Election Transformed Racism?

"Barack Obama's election did not end racism in America, but transformed it, according to Tim Wise, an anti-racist activist who spoke to an audience of over 150 at Harvard Law School last night.

Wise said he first discussed coming to Harvard to talk about race several months ago. 'A funny thing happened on the way to Harvard Law School,' he said, jokingly referencing the election of President-elect Barack Obama. 'So now, racism is over. Thank you for coming and good night.'

But, Wise noted, the election of Barack Obama has not resolved the issue of racism in America."

-Noah S. Rayman, The Harvard Crimson Dec 10, 2008

History Is Not too Hard To Understand
"Maybe it's my fault.

I think I write pretty clearly, but perhaps I don't. In the last few days, ever since I counseled both excitement at the post-election possibilities for progressive activism, and caution at the risk of over-exuberance, it seems as though some on the left with a heavy investment in their self-righteous sense of radicalism have allowed their personal hatred of all things Democrat and all-things-mainstream-politics to get in the way of deciphering words on a page.

So although I made it very clear that Obama's election by itself would change very little, and that it was up to us to steer Obama's supporters into progressive activism, to hear some tell it, I am a starry-eyed bourgeois liberal who refuses to see the inherent evil of Barack Obama. Whatever. I haven't the time or inclination to play a game of who's the bigger radical with some of these folks: people who have told me that rather than voting, voluntary dumpster-diving is a revolutionary act (or who miss how whites who do it are abusing their privilege, since folks of color who do that shit are prosecuted for trespassing), or who still use words like bourgeois, and yet can't understand why regular folks can't figure out what the hell they're talking about."


-Tim Wise, Black Star News Nov 13, 2008

Victories, Defeats, and Where Next
"In the wake of Barack Obama's election as president, there are a number of debates about what it means and where we go -- what does this victory say about race and racism in the US, what kind of mandate does it amount to, what kind of change will we see, what happens to the Obama voters and volunteers. In an extraordinary essay, Tim Wise speaks to a number of them. You should just read the whole thing. But for a taste, here's Wise on one of the ways Obama's win, despite not in any form or fashion signaling an end to racism, holds promise for forward movement on racism:

'Tonight was also a victory for the possibility of greater cross-racial alliance building. Although Obama failed to win most white votes, and although it is no doubt true that many of the whites who did vote for him nonetheless hold to any number of negative and racist stereotypes about the larger black and brown communities of this nation, it it still the case that black, brown and white worked together in this effort as they have rarely done before.'"
-MissLaura, Daily Kos Nov 7, 2008

Good, and Now Back to Work: Avoiding Both Cynicism and Overconfidence in the Age of Obama
"Tonight, after Barack Obama was confirmed as the nation's president-elect, I looked in on my children, as they lay sleeping. Though they are about as politically astute as kids can be, having reached only the ages of 7 and 5, there is no way they will be able to truly appreciate what has just happened in the land they call home. They do not possess the sense of history, or indeed, even a clear understanding of what history means, so as to adequately process what happened this evening, as they slumbered. Even as our oldest cast her first grade vote for Obama in school today, and even as our youngest has become somewhat notorious for pointing to pictures of Sarah Palin on magazines and saying, "There’s that crazy lady who hates polar bears," they remain, still, naive as to the nation they have inherited. They do not really understand the tortured history of this place, especially as regards race. Oh they know more than most–to live as my children makes it hard not to–but still, the magnitude of this occasion will likely not catch up to them until Barack Obama is finishing at least his first, if not his second term as president."
-Tim Wise, Racialicious Nov 5, 2008

Racism as Reflex
"If hypocrisy were currency, conservatives would be able to single-handedly bail out the nation's free-falling financial system in less than a week, without the rest of us having to front so much as a penny.

So on the one hand, folks like this always tell others--especially the poor and people of color--to take 'personal responsibility' for their lives, and not to blame outside factors (like racism, or the economic system) for their problems. But on the other hand, these same persons then demonstrate that their own ability to blame others for their personal setbacks, or the nation's problems, knows no rival."
-Tim Wise, CounterPunch Sep 29, 2008