White Like Me Reflection On Race By Tim Wise Critical Analysis

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In Tim Wise’s book “White Like Me Reflections on Race from a Privileged son” (2011), Wise tackles the controversial topic of white privilege and how racial identity and whiteness here in America shape the overall lives of white Americans and adversely affect people of color. He entwines stories from his own life experiences from birth to present to make it both an easy read and relatable. Wise explains exactly what white privilege means and how this privilege is systematically embedded into American society and because of this, racism and racial disparities are rampant. He writes this book, not for those people of color, as they already know and understand the effects that whiteness (or lack thereof) has on their lives; but he writes for his …show more content…
Although he has European Jewish lineage in his family tree, he considers himself and his experiences (with a few exceptions) as white. Wise has a unique perspective compared to most of his white counterparts and was raised to be socially conscious by his parents in the late 60’s and 70’s. He even boasts, ”…I was conceived, appropriately, during an act of antiracist protest” (5). The choice his mother made to put him in a majority black preschool helped him to develop very early on a respect for people of color, especially those in positions of authority. Being socialized in a non-dominant environment allowed him to connect with his black playmates that would later allow him to recognize the racial segregation that took place in white dominant environments that most others didn’t and couldn’t see. Throughout his childhood and adolescence, Wise could clearly make the distinction that him being white afforded him. From standing to up to authority in elementary school (62), to recognizing “…the entirely Eurocentric curricula” (73) in high school, to attending Tulane University and realizing whiteness, “…is about never being really out of place, of having the sense that wherever you are, you belong, and won’t encounter much resistance to your presence” (96-97). During his involvement in an anti-apartheid debate on campus, a student from another school questioned what he was doing to help fight the apartheid that was …show more content…
The theme of whiteness is one that is carried throughout Wise’s book and parallels much of what is mentioned in the article from RTC “Possessive Investment in Whiteness: Racialized Social Democracy” by author George Lipsitz. Lipsitz discusses the concept of whiteness and how it is abundant in the culture of the American society. He states, “…whiteness never has to speak its name, never has to acknowledge its role as an organizing principle in social and cultural relations” (Lipsitz 139). Lipsitz goes on to explain the foundational structure that this country was built on, that from the very beginning, America has been systematically set up to preserve and invest in whiteness. From slavery, to social and federal programs, to our educational and banking systems, everything has been established for the sole purpose of enhancing the lives of whites. Wise describes the concept of whiteness and the racialized society that America is and how it plays out in every aspect of American culture much like the way Lipsitz does. Wise has an eerily similar line in his book as the Lipsitz quote above, Wise states, “…is about never being really out of place, of having the sense that wherever you are, you belong, and won’t encounter much resistance to your presence” (Wise 96-97). Wise’s explanation of whiteness and the

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