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Anti-racist writer, educator Tim Wise to explore biases at ASU lecture

Anti-racist activist Tim Wise

Activist Tim Wise’s July 23 presentation in Phoenix will focus on the need for everyone – especially future leaders – to recognize and tackle their racial biases.

Photo courtesy of Tim Wise

July 09, 2015

Tim Wise has a reputation for connecting with audiences, especially youth.

That was made evident when his upcoming lecture, “Race, Justice and the Future of Leadership,” was announced – within two hours, more than 200 people had signed up.

The lecture, to be held July 23 at the Phoenix College Bulpitt Auditorum, is part of the ASU Center for the Study of Democracy's New Generations Leadership Program.

“The anticipation and enthusiasm for his visit also reveals the hunger in our communities for open, civil discussions about how unresolved racism and deep-seated biases continue to get in the way of our American democracy,” said Matthew C. Whitaker, founding director of the center.

“Tim is a public intellectual in the most generous sense,” Whitaker continued. “He’s in high demand as a speaker. He’s written widely on racism and white privilege in his essays, books and blog. On social media he continuously engages community conversations about issues of race and equality, using facts and historical research to help people drop their biases and assumptions about ‘others’ and privilege.”

An example, Whitaker said, is Wise’s #WhiteLiesMatter campaign this spring, in which he countered pervasive myths about race and poverty with economic data.

Wise’s presentation will focus on the need for all of us – especially future leaders – to recognize and tackle their biases. He’ll also engage in a facilitated conversation with professor Whitaker and a question-and-answer session. A book signing will follow.

Tim Wise’s work for social justice began as a Tulane University student in the 1980s, fighting for U.S. divestment from apartheid South Africa. After graduation, he worked for the Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and Nazism, organizing to defeat political candidacies of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

From there, Wise became a community organizer in New Orleans’ public housing and a policy analyst for a children’s advocacy group focused on combating poverty and economic inequity. He has served as an adjunct professor at the Smith College School of Social Work and, from 1999-2003, as an adviser to the Fisk University Race Relations Institute in Nashville.

Wise appears regularly on CNN and MSNBC to discuss race issues and has been featured in several documentaries, including “White Like Me: Race, Racism and White Privilege in America” and “Vocabulary of Change,” in which he and scholar and activist Angela Davis discuss the connections between race, class, gender, sexuality and militarism, as well as intergenerational movement-building and the prospects for social change.

He is the author of six books, including the highly acclaimed memoir “White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son,” as well as “Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority,” and “Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity.”

His new book, “Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Jeopardizing the Future of America,” examines the nation’s shift over the past century from a culture of “demonizing robber barons” to demonizing the poor. It will be released in September.

The lecture is free, but tickets are required. Seating is general admission and, if Bulpitt Auditorum should reach capacity, overflow seating will be offered in Phoenix College’s theater, where the event will be live-streamed.

There are volunteer shifts available before, during and after the lecture, beginning the week before the event – at the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy offices on ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus and at the event venue, Phoenix College.