tv Tim Wise Dispatches from the Race War CSPAN February 28, 2021 11:00am-12:01pm EST
>> tonight on booktv in prime time democratic representative madeleine dean the pennsylvania and her son harry discussed his drug addiction and recovery. stanford university law professor richard thompson ford looks at her dress codes have been used to maintain social and political hierarchy throughout history. >> visit booktv.org or consult your program guide for more information. >> today we are joined by tim wise, the speak out speaker who is among the most prominent antiracist writers and educators in the country. he has spent the past 25 years
speaking to audiences in all 50 states, to colleges, unity groups, companies and government agencies. the list goes on. also help provide methods of dismantling racial inequity in the institutions. he appears to regulate on cnn and msnbc as well as other media outlets to discuss race issues and is the author of nine books including his latest, "dispatches from the race war." we are so excited to partner with city lights books to launch that book here today and it just a moment we'll get to hear from tim nccic to questions about the book and our world right now. so please join me in welcoming tim wise. hey, tim. congratulations on your new book in thank you for joining us. >> thanks for putting this together and doing all the legwork on it. i just show up in my office package really sort of easy. my part of this is really and i want to say i only say this at the outset of these, my
technological prowess sort of ended with atari. there's like every possibility that i'm going to knock the computer down, disconnect the internet. if i lose connectivity i've got a link, i would get back with you. not feeling great right now that i will get it together and i will make it work. i'm just saying that in case a screw something up, it will be on my end and not yours. >> i think we're all learning together so thank you for your honesty, too. so did jump right in tell us about this book why did you choose to put this out? why did you pick this title? give us all the juicy stuff. >> the title in particular i chose in the intro for those of already read the book, in the introduction i articulate why i chose this notion of race war, this imagery and symbolism of race war. many years ago now, it's been like half my life ago actually,, about 26, 27 years ago i was at
a family reunion. i'm from tennessee as a think a lot of folks know. my family reunion was in memphis. i lived in national but a lot of them is on the website of the state and we're doing a family reunion in memphis, and i was like four years out of college. i had already done quite a bit of antiracism work at the community level as an organizer. i had been involved in the work against state institute in louisiana town in 90 and 81. i was at this reunion with my mom. we have gone down to the lorraine motel which is now the civil rights museum of course with dr. king was assassinated. we come back. my mom and i come back and we were having dinner sitting around talking to family and one of my great aunts who i always really loved, sweet old southern lady, very nice with this raspy voice, i think she smoked like 11 fact the cigarettes a day or something. she sounded like brenda vaccaro
which will mean to anyone under 50 but in any event she had this voice and she leaned in knowing what i need an but my interest were and she leans in to get an sort of whispers, and she said, tim, because she could turn my name into a two maximum award which is what old southern folks into apparently, and she said, tim, do you think we'll have a race war? she could make 18 -- she could make war a two syllable word. i don't know. strange. i gathered that when she asked that, she was thinking of a very particular kind of war. around the time to books had been written in one by rove, black journalists and in the other by richard geld couto, a critical race there is had use the title race war in the title. they were talking about it being initiated by white folks, right?
it were talking about as something at the far right would initiate. i was pretty sure my great aunt wasn't thinking that. it was obvious she was scared of black people, that she was worried that they were going to start something. i looked at her and assorted jokingly said i don't think so if that's what you mean because i'm pretty sure black folks want to start a race where they would've earned this country the ground along a long time t would've started right here in germantown which is a white suburb outside of memphis. this place would've been torched. we would be having a family reunion. it would've gone up along time ago. because i'm i'm a smart aspect that way, she did too. she giggled or whatever and i said no, auto saddle think so but the real point is we are already in one. do any way he asked the question she did is if you think last 400 years, 375 approximate, had been this warrantless, peaceful,
plastic out of if i'm and it's only a war now the black folks in print folks are fighting back. it's only a war now that they decide weird done with white supremacy and we will move for to try to dismantle it. my point was yet to understand this war started 15 15 geners or whatever it is ago. our family, this particular branch of my family which is the mclean family, my moms fathers people. you folks seeking to the the u.s. in 1750. the war had been going for a century and a half almost by the time they landed on the shores of america. by the time several other branches of my family came to america it'd been going on even longer than that. i wanted to find the notion of race war so we understand as a think the 1619 project tried to to america this year in the "new york times," that the foundational elements of the
country's history are about the initiation of race war in the name of whiteness, and that white supremacy was the initiation of that war. it's not a war because the of the site fights back. it's a war because whiteness began this process both the conquest and displacement of indigenous people's, which we acknowledge at the beginning of our session, and also the beginning of enslavement of african people's and exploitation of black labor. i just think we tend to talk but history like it started yesterday or we think about when we talk about remedies for injustice we don't go back to start with injustice. people never understand why we need to remedy injustice because we have been studied the of it. i think we need to go back to beginning and that was what i i wanted to frame it that way. >> awesome. i have read about half of it so far as i'm excited and eager to read the rest. just a reminder we did put in
the chat the 30% offer. other folks have not gotten to buy the book it. obviously these essays were compiled over many years dating back to the obama presidency, extending to the final month of the trump regime and we know the differences between those administrations when you ito race and equity issues but now that we are in the beginning of this biden presidency, what do you think will be the challenges for racial justice advocates and educators? how might an anti-racism struggle becomes easier or more difficult? >> that was at the think i wanted to do with this book. i wanted to demonstrate this arctic of the last 12 years, let's say, from 2008 -2020 because the very first essay in the book after the intro is e night of the obama victory in 2008. i wanted to bridge those two principally to show both the
sort of ongoing salience of these issues in a matter who is in power, , the ongoing realityf racism and racial inequity and all of our institutional spaces regards of whether you have a democrat or republican in office. at the same time to show the difference is because we know in 2008 after 2008 the was an awful lot of white americans who sort of folded her arms and said good, we are done with that whole racism thing. isn't that great? black and brown folks will like it's not really how it works. i think now most any white person capable of understanding that's not how it works probably knows now after four years of trump that's how it works but i wanted to demonstrate that. the risk right now is that we could very easily, if we are not careful, that people who are so happy to be able to exhale at
the end of the trump presidency come to be able to say least we don't have this white nationalist neofascist buys signaling. buys signaling president who says that among white supremacist in charles silver were some very fine people. least we don't have that. there's a risk of going back to sleep. i hope we know better after eight years of barack obama not to sleep on racial injustices because a democrat is in office, just because someone makes some reasonably decent and progressive arguments and statements about certain public policy. obviously it's better to not have donald trump in office. it's better to have anyone, my dog, my cat, a 17-year-old, anybody, anyone anyone on this call, any of us right, is better than donald trump. but we cannot afford to act as though this format years was, it was a break with normal in some regard regards. we're not used to a president
rage tweets at three in the morning from the bedroom at the white house but what's not give is largest in the reality that is in the background. donald trump didn't create any of these injustices that we saw magnified perhaps during his four years. it might be an iteration of normalcy that is more extreme than what we're used to but if we just back to the subtle dog whistling, if we go from what trump did, which lopez still says its stock whistling of the more extreme nature, of the people refer to it as a bullhorn or whatever, but regardless going back to the more subtle form which the right relied upon for the 40 years before trump, isn't necessarily going to be better if we get caught flat-footed and assume now the work is done and joe biden will take care of it all. obviously that is not the case.
>> do you think there would be any specific challenges? we mostly work with college campuses and educators. is there anything you have seen or thought about the might be a challenge for that sector for racial justice activists? >> there are two challenges. one and a method to do with what i litter to a second go. one is that exhaling becoming this reason to let your guard down like oh, my god this been so exhausting for the last year in particular since the killing of george floyd and the iniquities of the coronavirus. you can just imagine people being so exhausted. last summer we saw while were still in the middle of the largest racial justice uprising really in raw numbers in american history, 23 million people have been involved and browns, protests, demonstrations or or other public events since last may. you can imagine people after that very hot fire burning really quickly, really, really hot for several months, that
sometimes the fuel source gets exhausted and that's a concern for sure. other thing is look, part of why we were able last year for the last seven months after george floyd, to have such a really successful upsurge in the movement was because of the very unique moment that we were in, because of corona. let's be clear. if we are not in a pandemic moment for that period of time, a pandemic moment where most of us, not everybody, not what we call the center workers, not front-line health workers obviously, but for the vast majority of us our lives were a lot quieter on a day to day. we were at home. we were sheltered in place more. we didn't have the same noise on a daily basis as what we probably were used to and that allowed a lot of white people frankly who had never ever
really been able to listen to a black and brown folks are telling us who constantly white folks hit the snooze button when the racial justice alarm clock goes off. it allowed a lot of his white folks to see and to hear and if you're for the first time what we had been suppressing before. the concern now is when we get on the other side of the pandemic, which hopefully we will sooner rather than later, one doesn't know obviously, but hopefully we will. we certainly want to. 425,000 lost lives is more than enough, right? so when we get on the other side and get back to life the way we are more used to it, we start going out again and hanging out with friends and we have hustle and bustle and the noise of our regular work routine in school routine, the question is, will that energy continue in the same direction. will those companies and those
colleges and those high schools and those churches and synagogues and all of these different organizations that in the last seven months started reaching out all in 11 racial justice seminars, wanting conversations and wanting how-to lists and what should we be reading, are they still going to want that information and really want to act on it when the crisis moment passes? that's something we don't know. that will be up to all of us to make sure that those institutions stay on it and don't go back to sleep and just hit that snooze button again. >> i agree and i don't think this work ends. personally i am excited to see how this could possibly -- especially important on keeping our elected officials accountable and just digging deeper into the question and reiterating, since the killing
of george floyd milli gazette taken up the cause of racial justice. we have never done that before. this includes millions of white americans and hundreds if not thousands of institutions who also seek out services from speak out from school boards to private companies, nonprofits and a lot of them like you said are rushing to develop equity plans or diversity efforts in their organizational spaces. but what about this development is heartening to you? you told us about our concerns you but also what is heartening about it? from your perspective how do we keep that moment of the last summer and what happened in that positive direction? >> i have to be heartened by it at least some otherwise i have to just bask in cynicism the whole time and just start with the assumption that they are all full of shit evidently meant to make any changes. and look, some people i think
are probably doing it for really cynical motives. they're just checking a box. we get our diversity and equity work and i were moving on. but i have to assume that some are going to be genuine. even if they don't know they're going to be genuine i think there are a lot of employees in those companies and a lot of parishioners in those church pews and a lot of students in those schools who were going to keep the administrators, the executives, the ministers increase in whatever on it because i think the grass roots, sort of the base of those institutions, are really wanted push forward. there may be people in positions of authority who are doing it for pr and whatever but i think there are folks will try to hold them accountable and keep them on it and not let them slip up and that is especially true for black and brown folks in those institutions but also white folk who are increasingly asking the question at least, how to act in real solidarity and how can it be a better ally?
look, i think it's important, and it is worth saying, sometimes those of us on the left and you have been in this work for a long time have a tendency to look sideways at anyone who is sort of a latecomer to the work. we saw this after the killing of george floyd. you had all these folks opening up, oh my god, i didn't know. look, it's to say where the hell if you been? wherever you went eric garner got choked out on the streets of staten island? where were you when, where were you, where were you? but none of that sates anybody's life. none of that where were you stop. all that doesn't make somebody feel more radical and bad aspect for singer. it's not revolutionary to lecture other people about how not radical they are yet. it's not revolutionary to get on folk about the fact they don't know what you know especially when some of the stuff you know you just learned. i count in hell are you going to
jump in somebody on thursday about some stuff you only learned on monday? diggity speaking. sometimes literally speaking. i'm one of these folks now at this age i'm just like i don't care if you're late to the party, as long as you come and don't try to change the music the vha's play. the dj -- this is the music. this is what were dancing to. if you want to join, just don't try to change up the music. follow those who are doing the work and doing the work. if you do that then it's okay that you were here before. you are here now and it's our job to those of us have been worked ergodic it people ready to do the work at the next level. >> awesome, thank you. also a wild thought is we're doing this all in the midst of the pandemic. there so many points about antiracism in education and concepts that is come to the forefront like you said. there's also this debate among some progressives as the proper
role of so-called identity politics within the strategy and there it is. some criticize antiracism as well as intersectional feminism and organizing around issues of sexuality, gender identity, gender expression as being diversions from classic organizing can let it which they find to be more strategically valuable for building winning progressive coalition. can you talk about this critique and why in your estimation and mrs. important points about left organizing in the modern air? >> there's a piece in the book that addresses that specifically but i'll give you a short version. all politics are identity politics. it's only white people have the luxury of not knowing that. white men in particular and white straight meant even more particularly. all politics, to say that class politics are not identity politics is absurd. class is an agenda. it has no organic meeting. i know there are scholars who
say it does. those material conditions only exist as they exist under a class system in this country, capitalism and we didn't have class system class would meditate if we didn't have white supremacy race would matter. neither of them are truly organic. all politics is about identity. we only get upset when it is black and brown folk organizing on the basis of theirs. if you don't like identity-based politics and identity-based operation and you got to worry. if there is no racism you don't have to worry about antiracism. getting in the way of your socialist organizing which you prefer to do as economic issues. if there's no misogyny and patriarchy you have to worry about feminist organizing, if there is no supremacy or transcode and heterosexual listen to have to worry about organizing about those things and we can all talk about class issues. the reality is those things are real and the impact people's lives. all politics is identity.
when a politician says we will cut your taxes they are appealing to people's identity as taxpayers. when you say will fix the schools their appealing specifically to parents especially appear to have children. it's a conceit of white leftists and not all white leftists but many. who think why can't we just have a new you do you like can we just talk about the things i gunite that's all? the reality is that you want class-based movement and i do as someone of the left, you have to do with white supremacy. let me explain why. there is a reason why class base organizing in this country has not been as effective in the long term as class-based organizing in the countries in the western industrial model that would like to compare ourselves to. that has to do specifically with the unique racial history of this country. if you go back and look at the ancient -- the feudal societies of europe, you're talking about really two classes of people and
the only identity down what your class identity. you didn't have a lot of racial or ethnic diversity and cultural diversity. you are protestant and catholic and i'm a difference to a lot of folks but for the most part you had a bunch of people who were not even called white yet but we can call them that now and you were either look to either the peasant class are you with a royalty or royalty adjacent comfortably comfortable in class or you were the peasantry. you knew the only chance you had to get a better deal in england, germany, france was you either, you have to pretty much kill the king. you have to overthrow the royalty because you are not going to move up. there is no meritocracy, know i work really hard. no, you will not be anywhere but in this country we created a system that had the ideology of meritocracy sorting and -- i get to do is work hard and you can make it which is a very powerful ideology that makes class organizing harder and will be also did was we created a racial task system -- caste system.
that racial caste system said to people now called white, you may not have much but at least you have this thing come just a symbolic is called a property interest in whiteness, possessive investment in whiteness. this skin pays you dividends. you were not going to be the boss, you will not run stuff but you're more than them. when you don't have any other capital to spend you will spend this. that wasn't a dynamic that hurt class organizing conditions of europe. like in this country it makes it a lot harder. if if you want to have defectie class solidarity got to grapple with that. you have to do with that and make sure that your progressive organizing is antiracist in orientation because if that could be enough to go to white working-class people and say, i remember when i think the anti-david duke work, we had
these various iterations of marxist friends would say we just need to go in to the oil and chemical plants and tell these white folks that they would be better off if they would join with her black writers and sisters and fight for better wages for everybody. i remember saying you try that and let me know how that goes. six out of ten white people voted for david duke. they knew he was a nazi. they didn't care. these are not people and when you say if we just told them they would have better health care if they voted for these politicians, the problem that argument has is the white folks who don't endorse universal healthcare, who don't endorse solidarity wages, the reason they don't, the reason they don't support progressive politics is because they don't want everyone to have those benefits. they want to maintain their better nest and their specialist. when you say we could all have good health care if you just get behind progressive politics, their answer whether they will articulate it to your not is i don't want anybody to have it. i want to have it. those people don't deserve it.
we have to address that piece if you're going to get really progressive movements around class. you can't assume people will vote their class interests when they had cast interests to which they can pivot instead which is what they have now. >> it we could just remind folks if they have joined us before not those the concept you talked about that people will only vote a certain way or do something based on like if it affects them. what is that called? you said something like -- >> interest convergence? so one of the things a lot of us were talking about after the coronavirus in particular, i talked about a lot this past year, and there are a couple of essays in the book that address this near the end. derek bell, brilliant legal scholar who's no longer with us but was at harvard and left harvard in protest because they would not hire a tenure-track
black female at the time your field may did. but at the time they had nazi left and went to nyu. brilliant legal scholars, and one of the things that professor bell talked about in his work was that, look, we have to start from an honest even if it isn't uncomfortable position, and is honest and come to position which he documented extensively and is writing was that there has never been any movement forward in this country on race and racial equity unless there was interest convergence between the needs of black people and the needs of the larger society including white folks. in other words, at no point have we had progress because white folks suddenly woke up from this depot presser presses so ourselves, oh, my god, can't believe we've been doing this all of these features. we ought to stop. that's never been the basis for change. if you think about abolition or the north going to war, was that
to free like puke for enslavement or was at the city unity? that was interest convergence. abolition was a means to an end. emancipation was a means to an end that serves the interest of not just black people but the unit as a whole. fast-forward to brown v. board and the desegregation ruling in that case and the civil rights movement as a whole, what was going on that allowed these lawmakers and the court in eight to nothing decision in 1954 in brown and why would he do that? all of a sudden change from what they have been, these were not like progressive critical race theory is on the but the issued its opinion. what was going on? professor bell talks about it. at that moment were in the middle of a propaganda war with the soviet union and with china, with sort of a socialist or communist east versus the capital this quote-unquote democratic west. what else is happening at the
time is colonialism is starting to fall apart. you are starting to see nations in africa and asia come out and throw off the boot of oppression from the '50s into the early '60s and they are looking around try to figure out which model are we going to go with? which orbit of influence are going to connect to? in that battle if you're the united states and you want these brown folks, let's be clear, and black folks, let's be clear, , o follow your way of doing things and come to your orbit in the cold war as opposed to going over there to the evil empire, right, you have to do what? you had to put on a good face. you cannot appeal to black and brown people if they look at you and they see in your newspapers and on your television every day, you with your boot on the neck of people who look a lot like them. so there becomes an interest convergence between reforming things, making life better for black and brown folk, maybe
significantly so, and also that pr needs of the empire. when derek bell said this one might argue he's been cynical, however well documented. my argument update it would be a little less cynical. i'm not saying it's a bad thing necessarily that there's interest convergence. i just think when need to find where that's happening now and use that as a tool to further entrenched solidarity and white ally ship. ..
>> one of the later essays, one of the sections on 2020 and the unique year we came out of. if you think about it, if this illness, if covid-19, had been killing disproportionately white people and disproportionately affluent people and disproportionately younger as opposed to older and disproportionately otherwise healthy as opposed to people with pre-existing conditions, what would we have done as a country? i think we all know, we would have acted very differently, right? we would have responded -- the idea that we would be hurrying to open everything back up and that white folks would be showing up with camoflague and semiautomatic weapons at state capitols, demanding the right to go back to work, hell no, it was
them and their families who were disproportionately dying at a two to three times higher rate, they would have been demanding that the government cut them checks an let them stay home, give them paid leave, freeze their rent and mortgage. we should have done that, whether it was them dying or black and brown folks dying, because it was dispro force ' disproportionately black and yo, they were saying we should open back up. the idea that black and brown lives don't matter, if they're dying, ay, i need to get back to work. can we get this moving. as a result, 250,000 white folks are dead and a lot of us are burying grandparents and uncles, aunts and friends and so on april 7th of 2020 was the day when things -- you can check this out. april 7th of leastyear, the heat
the dispro force net impact on black. folks. up until that point, donald trump had started to sort of take it a little more seriously in his rhetoric, grudgingly. he didn't want to take it seriously. he was telling people you ought to wear a mask, even though he didn't want to, you ought to socially distance, even though he didn't want to, you ought to stay at home if you can. on that days, april 7th when the headlines come out that it's mostly black and brown folk, he was like enough of this, we have to get back to work. the night that headline hit, tucker carlson goes on had his show on fox, and says maybe we've been exaggerateing. he had been taking it seriously. he was the one right wing talk show host, unlike limbaugh and laura ingram. he was saying it was serious, until the headline comes out about who is being affected. as a result of that non
chalance, we took our foot off the brake that we were trying to put on the economy and trying to put on the society so we could get through the summer and maybe get through something that was healthier and not normal, because normal wasn't good, but something better. we took the foot off the brake. as a result, now there's more white folks that have died as well. that's the point. when you decide to create a society of based on a hierarchy of human value, that says white life is worth more than brown and black life. don't be surprised when that doesn't remain contained in that little container marked race. and all of a sudden, it's not just white over of nonwhite. it's also rich over poor as it's always been. it's also young over old. it's also healthy over not healthy. right. and so it's a eugenic mentality, rooted in a hierarchy of human
value which traces to white supremacy. we have a real opportunity to use derek bell's concept of interest convergence to try to make the argument that white folks are literally dying as we speak because of non-chalance about black lives. when black lives matter, all lives will, but not until they do. as long that's don't, the idea that some lives are not as valuable will continue to spread and it will ultimately come back and bite a lot of white folks on the ass as well as we're seeing right now. >> i think that is just so interesting. what a year this past year has been. what a year 2021 has already been. but from -- i want to ask a few kind of more fun questions, but from the opening pages you say that by the time we read this, we'll have known the outcome of the elections. you wrote this right before. it's troughing having published in these times when there's
constantly something to write about, talk about, different news cycles every day. based on this current moment, i wanted to ask you if you were to include another essay in the book, like right now, what would it be about or what would you talk about? >> i think, you know, you try anticipate all the horrible things that can happen and god knows in 2020, putting out a book on race was a crap shoot because horrible things were going to happen every week and we had to go back and add things and make changes and insert things at the last minute. obviously, no one really foresaw or maybe we did, but didn't want to acknowledge that we foresaw what would happen on the sixth. i guess if i were to add something, it would be something about the way in which the convergence between sort of the extreme neo fascist right which is usually operated in a space that's similar and overlaps like a venn diagram but it also
distinct from mainstream reactionary conservatism and the way those of things are becoming increasingly blended. when it started doing work in the fight against david duke in louisiana, we knew this was going to happen. it was obvious i think to those of us on the ground. you had david duke whose whole purpose in life since he had been in the klan was mainstreaming hatred, trying to figure out a way to take white supremacy and white nationalist views, not the garden variety racism but taking the george wallaceism and to ramp it up to another level and mainstream a kind of white supremacy and white nationalism that was even further to the right than one could get in mainstream politics and as it turns out, precisely because david duke was a nazi and had been a clansman, he -- klansman, he was not able to do
that. he became dangerously close in the senate and governor's race, getting the majority of white votes in both instances, obviously. but he was -- there was no way that he was going to be the guy. but he planted those seeds and then pat buchanan tried it in '92. he got some leeway as well and some steam in the republican primaries that year and -- but ultimately i don't think we would have thought it would have been trump who would -- this guy who doesn't really have these deeply seeded commitments to white nationalism the way that david duke or pat buchanan did but who knows marketing so much better than either of those guys. because that's his whole life is branding and marketing himself. that's all he knows. like he doesn't actually know -- he doesn't know how to run casinos, doesn't know how to run a state company, he doesn't know about real estate development. most of his stuff has gone bust. he's good at marketing his name
and concepts and knows how to appeal to people. when you take a guy who has his own racist beliefs, no questions and you show him how far he can go with that, you end up with something like january 6th. all of the seeds that were planted by duke and really by wallace and others but this is the -- this is the fruition of that. this is what happens when you don't tend to that and when you think as so many people did, and they told us 30 of years ago, this is an anomaly. louisiana's different. y'all are just weird. it's just a weird -- they have a jungle primary where everybody runs in one big thing and the top two vote getters are in the runoff and that favors extreme candidates. that won't happen anywhere else. it's just a one-off or maybe a two-off. but it's not going to go anywhere. and we all said, look, my boss at the coalition, lance hill, said that dukeism was sort of like cocaine politics. it was white.
but even more importantly, it was easily concealable and transportable across state lines. right. and what we're seeing is that. and so maybe something that would have put that together but that's like almost a whole book. so i don't know. maybe that's next. i don't know. [laughter] >> a new book. love it. thank you for that. and i just want to ask you a little bit behind the scenes question before we get into some of the audience questions. and i would love if you could share a little bit of your writing process, like how do you pick a topic? what's your process on writing it? there's so many things to talk about, how do you choose? >> i wish that i had a great answer for that. you know. one would think that nine books in that i must have some kind of process. but i don't. like i'll go -- i do, but it's not one that's he rep lickable or one that you want to replicate. i will go long stretches of time and write nothing and i'm in one of those stretches right now where i just haven't been able to write a whole lot.
i tried. i've written a bunch of stuff and haven't finished it. and then there will be times when i write stuff every day and i think for me, my process, particularly as a white man doing anti-racism work, is to try to be really careful about only sort of jumping in and adding my thoughts in print, for instance, when i think i've got something sort of unique to say. because there's a lot of people who say amazing things about race. i don't have to talk about every race story. i don't have to -- i'm a white guy. i get plenty of attention, more than i probably deserve. i don't need to be the first one out the gate every time something happens. but if there's an angle, if there's a take that i might be able to offer, then i will try to offer that as a supplement to what brilliant other scholars mostly of color are writing and are saying. and there are times of course that i have a particular insight
as a white person in the belly of this beast known as whiteness that i can offer that's a unique keened of maybe -- kind of maybe unique take. my process for doing it, i will oftentimes over-think pieces and what i've learned is especially in this modern media age, i think 20 years ago, 25, 30 years ago, you had to really pars your words and think about it because you were gnd to be sending stuff off to editors who were going to get snippy about every thing. i have an editor i worked with for several books. we do our thing. when it comes to essays, when you send them out in the world, you don't have any of that. my process is i try to not overthink because what i found is that the pieces that are over-thought and like overly data-driven, i love data, there's some pieces in here that -- via section that's about that. but i realize that's not really what persuades most people,
certainly not what goes viral and catches people's attention. have you to be short, punchy piece that's try to catch people sort of at an emotive level. for every essay or article i've started, there's four that i haven't started or finished. sometimes i go back to them. if i find something that strikes me that needs to be said. a lot of times my process is i stare at the walls until some idea pops out. what i also do, i go read other people's stuff. the only way you become a good writer, even a decent writer, is to read good writing. no one is just naturally good at this. i don't think. i mean, maybe there are. i'm certainly not. you have to read good writing and you read other people's thoughts about subjects and then ideas will pop out to you like oh, that makes me think of this thing that they didn't say or that someone else didn't say. i try to read 10 pieces for every one that i produce.
>> you're a great writer. i go to your book to learn things and get better. so thank you. i would love to open it up to the audience now. throw your questions in the q & a tab. we're going to try to get through as many as we can before the hour ends. i'll encourage folks to answer this in the chat. this is from loretta ross, actually. one of our speakers. how do you define the difference between white supremacy and white nationalism? >> well, white supremacy is sort of the over-arching ideology that animates white nationalism. so the whole concept of white nationalism, this idea of the need for and desirability of a white ethno state as they refer to it, those who push for this, is rooted in the idea that white people are better, are in some
significant sense superior to those who were considered not white and that's why the ethno-state is needed. and so white supremacy is the sort of ideological glue that holds together people who in one degree or another want a white nationalist political structure. you know, the white nationalism is sort of the structure and the white supremacy is the ideology that justifies in their mind having that structure and of course different white nationalists have different views about how this would look and there are those who want to carve out their own nation within a nation or subdivide the united states into several different racial nations, something duke advocated 40 years ago, 35 years ago. then there are others who just want to expel all quote, unquote, nonwhite people from the continental united states all together and even the ones who say they want to carve out space i think ultimately want to expel if you get down to it. even richard spencer, who has
been the most open, articulator of this notion of the white ethno state, one of the organizers of the charlotte unite the white rally, used to say i'm sure we can come to a peaceful resolution, but when it comes down to it, it's probably going to be bloody. it's rooted in the notion of betterness in some way and white supremacy and usually that's very hitlerian, where you have aryan peopled up here and a grudging respect for asian folks, a back handed respect. nazis said ayans were the culture creators and asians were
culture bearers. they can replicate and you duplicate and copy it but they don't create anything in the eyes of nazis and white supremacies and jews in their minds are culture destroyers. that's what many of the white nationalists believe as well. those are deeply linked. i use them interchangeably. every white nationalist is a white supremacist. not every white supremacist is not necessarily a white nationalist. they happen to believe in white superiority. >> thank you. another question we have says as someone in higher education i see the momentum go away and no more librarians organizing book groups, no more administrators standing on sidewalks during blm solidarity actions. how do we engage the folks who came to the party but aren't committed to the work in the long haul. >> number one, have you to remember that this will always
happen. like there's no movement that i can think of in history that hasn't had its ebbs and flows. there are going to be low moments where the energy seems a little lower. and then you're going to have a burst of energy oftentimes that you didn't even expect that comes right after a low moment. and so number one, don't get discouraged by the fact that there's this for some people, this sort of ebbing of the tide because in historical terms, i mean, george floyd is killed in may, may 27th or whatever of last year. and so we are now at the beginning of february. so we're nine months in. if you were to put this in historical terms, that would be like after the sit-ins hit -- i'm in nashville right now. after the sit-ins hit in february of 1960. sit-ins swept across the south throughout the month of february. that would be like saying, you know, in november if things are a little slow, like oh, man this
civil rights movement, i mean, that was cool while it lasted but like nothing's happening. well, you know, trust me, in retrospect we know there's plenty of stuff coming. part of it is not to get discouraged and to realize that people are going to fall away from the street activeism that they might have been doing in june and they're going to fall away from some of the more aggressive and militant stuff that we need out there in the community. but 90% of this work is not that in the first place. it's nice to have the street heat and rallies and a lot of times we get in our head that's what movement looks like, that's what activeism is, that's what the work is, is protesting and marching. that's part of it. but that's not all of it. if you know the history of the anti-racism struggle in this country, you know that 90% of that work was not who was sitting in and who was sitting on the bus and getting beaten and marching across the bridge in selma, it was work behind the
scenes, done by people in communities, the stuff that you don't read about in history books, that doesn'tmade make the headlines. the same is true now. it's like an iceberg with 90 of% is below the water line. there will be some folks who will be in it always. there are going to be some folks who drop in and drop out as things require in their own lives. but once they dip their toe in that water, and have started down that road, there's always the opportunity to get back to them and to bring them back in. i don't want to judge people too harshly for sort of ebbing and flowing in their activeism. that's what people generally do. and we have to be able to meet people where they are and say all right, look, if you're not down for a rally this week, here's some stuff you can do. here's some things you can do in your own life. here's some things you can do with your kids. here's some things you can do at the school that your kids attend or whatever. there's a lot of different ways to do the work and i worry
sometimes that we only think about movement as protest. but there's never been a protest in the history of protests that changed anything absent the other work that was happening behind the scenes and in the communities. protests don't get people to just make changes just because you got a lot of people yelling at you. that's just not how social change happens so we've got to have protests and demonstrations, we have to have a lot of other stuff going on at the same time. >> right, right. thank you for that. so another question, somebody says i've got the book and love it. would you -- would like to know if there are any essays in the book that are particularly meaningful to you. if so, what makes an essay stand out to you as meaningful? >> well, i mean, obviously the one that -- in the intro where i'm talking about having this conversation with my aunt was meaningful because it was this very personal reflection as a family member about our history
as a family and having this discussion with her right after having come from the lorraine motel and having been in this really sacred space where king had been killed, only to have to come and deal with that. that was very impactful. but i think for me, the ones that are -- the one that's probably the most impactful, there's an essay that i wrote the night or the day after the verdict in the george zimmerman trial and when the zimmerman verdict came down, our oldest daughter was like 13 or 14. i can't remember exactly. but -- i think 13. she grew up in my house. we've had some conversations about race, well before that. but as i write in that piece, that was the night that our oldest daughter in particular became an american in the truest sense of the word. and what i mean by that, and i talk about it in the essay, is that was the night that she really came to understand the
nature of this system and this society for black people in this country. and i remember holding her as she was going to sleep and she's crying because, you know, doesn't matter how much you talked to your dad about this stuff and you've had this conversation. when you actually see the system fail black people so spectacularly as it did in the george zimmerman trial when he was acquitted of killing trayvon, it hits you. and she fell apart and i remember holding her and i did what all parents i think do in a moment like that, which is you tell your kid when they're crying, like your instinct is to say oh, it will be okay. it will be okay. i did that and then my kid who is 13 says no, it won't. and -- it was in that moment when i realized that my kid had a much more profound insight in that moment than i did.
i was trying to protect her from the truth but she could see it with her own eyes and the vail l had been lifted. i wasn't trying to protect her. i was trying to help her in that moment. the veil was lifted and it was done and all bets were off and so to me when you -- when you see the light bulb go on for this person, for whom you're responsible and to whom you are responsible, it's pretty profound. so that's probably the most meaningful one. >> thank you. we just have about like one more minute. but i just wanted to see if -- let's see. hold on. one more question. how can we find out about white people who have fought against white supremacy and bring these folks into our educational system? >> you know, it's really an important thing to do. i've talked about it for many years and i've thought about doing something and i always
sort of backed off from it because i don't want to -- i don't want to overly fetishize while allies in history. i don't want to -- i don't want to make the focus all about us and what we've done. but we do need -- because the leadership of the struggle has always been black and brown as it should be. but we do need to have a better sense of it and i just teamed up a few months ago with rage against the machine. we put out a video that we're going to be continuing to do some work on this, but the production team and rage against the machine and i put together a video where -- that was the whole premise, was to challenge whiteness and the construct of whiteness and by excavating some of these names and some of their faces and some of their stories and that's in the video, like talking about some white folks historically who stood up against white supremacy. and most of those names are people that most folks haven't heard of. jeremiah evert, angelina and
sarah grimky. normally i sit in front of my bookcase. the light is weird right now. i have like a whole section. there's herbert abteker. 's book, an analysis of the history of white anti-racism going back to the colonial period. stories and names of people that we have generally not heard of. it's important that we learn that. i think it's important because i think one of the problems in inspiring solidarity among white people is this feeling of like not having any models that sort of look like you. not that your role models have to look like you. they don't. i can look at fannie lou hamer as a role model. and i should. when you can have a role model whose life story is similar to yours in a lot of ways because of your racial identity, it starts to give you ideas about how you can do it. like my trajectory is not ella
baker's trajectory. i can be inspired by ella baker. it's harder for her to serve as a direct role model because our lives were so different. hers was compared to mine. so having these stories, like seeing oh, my god, here's the story of joan trump mullhollander or the story of matt seacrest or the story -- all these folks, including so many who are very much involved in the work, bob, joan and dottie as well. to see their trajectory and to say okay, well, there are people who have done this and by the way, they didn't all get killed for it. like that's really important too. because a lot of the white allies that we learn about in history are the martyrs. so maybe john brown, maybe goodman and shwerner, maybe viola liozo, maybe james reed. if the only ones you're learning about are the ones that they murdered, the only ones you're learning about are the ones that
were killed for doing the work, it's going to be really hard to inspire a new you generation of white folks to join the struggle unless they want to be a martyr and i don't want anybody who wants to be a martyr in any movement that i'm a part of. that's dangerous. it's important to rediscover or discover for the first time the history of white solidarity. to be inspired and to learn from the mistakes. everywin has made them. i've made them. everyone i you mentioned a moment ago, all these folks all made mistakes. they all said things and did things in various of their writings or some point in their organizer that we look on now as really problematic. those are lessons that we can all take heart in and realize that we can build on that foundation. so i hope that we can begin to see more projects like this one that rage and i and the omakr of
oma production folks put together. you can find that video if you go to my twitter. i know it's on youtube. if you look up rage against the machine and they took their song, killing in the name of -- killing in the name, and called it killing in thy name, it's a music video for that song. like 14 minutes. it's this long sort of production about whiteness and it ends with like some concert footage, rage convert footage also. so you can find that on youtube and sort of get a sense of how we might start to do those kinds of projects which would be great. >> a awesome. wow. well, thank you, tim, so much. i want to thank you all so much for being here. sorry we couldn't get to all of your questions. hopefully next time. if you want to learn more about speak out and how to bring tim virtually to your campus, company or community, you can visit speakoutnow.org. also of shout-out to city lights
books. i think we've been putting in the chat where you can buy the book. 30% off. and be sure to check out upcoming events that we have going on. thank you all so, so much. stay healthy. stay brave. speak up. speak out. solidarity, we are out. thanks, y'all. the american enterprise institute's john forcier provides his guide to understanding the electoral college process. interviewed by author and
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