Understanding White Privilege in Tim Wise’s Works

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

White privilege, a concept used by Tim Wise, an anti-racist writer, and educator, establishes that the whites enjoy more economic and social benefits as compared to people of color. Tim Wise has various videos, which are an attempt to understand the origin of white privilege, which is more of racial discrimination based on skin color. According to Wise, the whites are blind or are in denial, and racial discrimination is rampant in the US, something that he does not support. I agree with the video contents as Wise has outlined various cases to argue why he believes that the US is yet to shake off its racial and ethnic discrimination. For instance, Wise refers to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which affected both whites and African Americans. In as much as the hurricane destroyed both the whites and African-Americans livelihood, there was a profound blame game on who contributed to the hurricane. The politicians who were responsible for ensuring the people were secure did nothing to avert the situation. Interestingly, the same city council passed an ordinance that made it illegal to rent property in St Bernard Parish to anybody who was not a black relative (Wise).

In this case, the affected whites would not consider working with the fellow blacks to demand that the politicians secured their future due to the white privilege ideology.

Wise has established that race is a historical construction dating back to the 1600s. According to Wise (a), before the 1600s, the concept of the white race was not as profound as it is today. In the 1660s, the idea started to take root owing to the availability of African slaves who were under the indenture. At this time, the white realized that they had one thing in common: they had slaves. By 1670s, the indenture system was being abolished by offering some slaves tracts of land, which was a means of divide and rule. In this way, the rich were able to get into the minds of the poor who fought to help the elite maintain their status. According to Wise, the race is not a scientific or a biological outcome but rather a social construct to help the elite stay in power. It is for this reason that different states have different definitions and characteristics of the race, depending on what they hoped and hope to achieve.

I understand that the concept of white privilege to mean that individuals who were born into this country and who have white skin tend to enjoy more benefits. Technically, the whites are considered more superior as they control the means of production and make the most of the elite class. These benefits are educational, political, social, economic, housing and access to public instutions. While the whites get the best jobs, live in the best neighborhoods, and get the best education and healthcare, people of color have to struggle to get these opportunities. In a way, I have been taught to understand that the people of color are intrusive, and as such, they cannot get what is reserved for the whites. This notion is ingrained in the minds of people around me, and it is hard to change it. This form of understanding has continually put a strain between the whites and the people of color, and this form of pressure has continued to shape my relationships.

The dominant groups in the US are the whites who are drawn from the middle class and the people of color. This group of individuals is keen on maintaining their dominance in any way possible. Perhaps it is for this reason that the dominant group denounces any form of racial discrimination, as it is this discrimination at assures it of its dominance. Most of the political and economic policies are geared towards ensuring that the supremacy is not diluted by infiltration of other races. According to Wise, the proposal to build a war at the US Mexican border is one of the visible efforts to ensure that the white race stays ahead. The people on color, on the other hand, fight hard to remain relevant in a country that is plagued with racial discrimination. In this case, the minority groups come together to push for more inclusivity to have improved lives.

The concept of race was a factor owing to the decisions that were made regarding the building and repair of the levees in New Orleans following the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. Before the hurricane, over 70 percent of the residents were drawn from the African American community. This ethnic composition is what contributed to slack decisions during the evacuation, relocation, and rehabilitation of the levees. The white neighborhoods of Old Metairie and Lake View would have 5.5 feet reduction in floodwater (Wise). On the other hand, the Lower 9th Ward, a predominantly African American region would have 1.5 feet reduction in floodwater. This decision then means that the African-American neighborhoods would be exposed to life-threatening conditions in the coming few years.

Race relations have improved over time as people continue to realize that race is only a social and historical construct and do not need to define human relationships. I feel that modern society is striving to have more inclusion of other races with the aim off building the economy. The appointment of Barack Obama as the President of the US was the surest way of declaring that the USS was pas racial discrimination. Nonetheless, I believe that more need to be done to ensure that anyone who gets into the US is treated equally in spite of the ethnic background or skin color. Only then will one conclude that the US has made a significant step towards achieving racial equality.


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