Tim Wise

Timothy Jacob Wise (born October 4, 1968)[citation needed] is an American activist and writer on the topic of race.[1] Since 1995, he has given speeches at over 600 college campuses across the U.S.[2] He has trained teachers, corporate employees, non-profit organizations and law enforcement officers in methods for addressing and dismantling racism in their institutions.[3]

Tim Wise
Tim Wise (cropped).jpg
Wise in 2011
Timothy Jacob Wise

(1968-10-04) October 4, 1968 (age 53)
EducationB.A., Political Science
Alma materTulane University
OccupationAnti-racism activist, writer
Spouse(s)Kristy Cason (1998–present)
Parent(s)Michael Julius Wise
LuCinda Anne (McLean) Wise

Early life and educationEdit

Wise was born in Nashville, Tennessee, to Michael Julius Wise and LuCinda Anne (née McLean) Wise. His paternal grandfather was Jewish (of Russian origin), while the rest of his ancestry is northern European, including some Scottish.[4][5] Wise has said that when he was about 12 years old his synagogue was attacked by white supremacists.[6] Wise attended public schools in Nashville, graduating from Hillsboro High School in 1986.[7] In high school he was student body vice-president and a member of one of the top high school debate teams in the United States. Wise attended college at Tulane University in New Orleans and received his B.A. there, with a major in Political Science and a minor in Latin American Studies.[8] While a student, he was a leader in the campus anti-apartheid movement, which sought to force Tulane to divest from companies still doing business with the government of South Africa. His anti-apartheid activism was first brought to national attention in 1988, when South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu announced he would turn down an offer of an honorary degree from Tulane after Wise's group informed him of the school's ongoing investments there.[9]



After graduating from Tulane in 1990, Wise started working as an anti-racism activist after receiving training from the New Orleans-based People's Institute for Survival and Beyond. Wise began initially as a youth coordinator, and then associate director, of the Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and Nazism, the largest of the various organizations founded for the purpose of defeating political candidate David Duke when Duke ran for U.S. Senate in 1990 and Governor of Louisiana in 1991.[10][11]

After his work campaigning against David Duke, Wise worked for a number of community-based organizations and political groups in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, including the Louisiana Coalition for Tax Justice, the Louisiana Injured Worker's Union and Agenda for Children, where he worked as a policy analyst and community organizer in New Orleans public housing.[12]

In 1995, Wise began lecturing around the country on the issues of racism, criticizing white privilege (his own included)[1] and proposing his solutions. The following year, he returned to his hometown Nashville, and he continued his work around the US, gaining a national reputation for his work in defense of affirmative action.[13]


From 1999 to 2003, Wise served as an advisor to the Fisk University Race Relations Institute.[14] Wise received the 2002 National Youth Advocacy Coalition's Social Justice Impact Award. He has appeared on numerous radio and television broadcasts, including The Montel Williams Show, Donahue, Paula Zahn NOW, MSNBC Live, and ABC's 20/20, arguing the case for affirmative action and to discuss the issue of white privilege and racism in America.[15]

Wise argues that racism in the United States is institutionalized due to past overt racism (and its ongoing effects) along with current-day discrimination. Although he concedes that personal, overt bias is less common than in the past (or at least less openly articulated), Wise argues that existing institutions continue to foster and perpetuate white privilege, and that subtle, impersonal, and even ostensibly race-neutral policies contribute to racism and racial inequality today.[16]


In multi-racial societies such as the U.S., Wise argues that all people (white or people of color) will have internalized various elements of racist thinking. However just because society has been conditioned this way does not mean that society is committed to racist thinking. Wise argues that members of society can challenge this conditioning and be taught to believe in equality.[17]

In 2010, Utne Reader magazine listed Wise as one of the "25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World".[18]

In 2013, Wise posted a commentary on his Facebook page describing the hate mail and death threats he receives, and addressing the people who troll his site. Many commenters criticized the commentary as reflecting white privilege, and questioned his role in the discussion of race in the United States. One commenter found Wise's remarks demeaning to anti-racist work done by people of color.[19] Two others compared Wise to Hugo Schwyzer, who was famous in feminist circles but later exposed for misogynistic attitudes.[19] Wise posted a response on Facebook saying in part, "I won't try and defend the tone of most of my remarks. It was inappropriate. Period. ... I fell into the same kind of vitriolic and sometimes personal attack mode that had gotten me angry in the first place. I shouldn't have. I will strive to do better."[19]

Wise starred in a 2013 documentary entitled White Like Me, based on the book by Wise of the same name.[20]

Personal lifeEdit

After living in New Orleans for ten years, Wise relocated to his native Nashville[21] in 1996. In 1998, he married Kristy Cason. The couple have two children.[21] Wise considers himself Jewish by heritage and ethnicity, but does not practice Judaism as a religion.[22] He is a critic of Israel, and philosophically opposed to Zionism, which he views as not only oppressive to non-Jews in Palestine, but detrimental to Jews as well, and counter to Jewish values.[23]

Written worksEdit

  • White Like Me: Reflections on Race From a Privileged Son (Soft Skull Press, 2004)
  • Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White (Routledge, 2005)
  • Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections From an Angry White Male (Soft Skull Press, 2008)
  • "The Pathology of Privilege: Racism" (PDF). Media Education Foundation. 2008. Archived from the original on October 9, 2009. Retrieved October 9, 2009.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  • Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama (City Lights Publishers, 2009) ISBN 978-0-87286-500-6.
  • Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity (City Lights Publishers, 2010) ISBN 978-0-87286-508-2.
  • Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority (City Lights Publishers, 2012) ISBN 978-0-87286-521-1.
  • Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America (City Lights Publishers, 2015) ISBN 978-0-87286-693-5.
  • Dispatches from the Race War (City Lights Publishers, 2020) ISBN 978-0-87286-809-0.[24]

Video releasesEdit

In addition to books and essays Wise has produced a DVD titled On White Privilege: Racism, White Denial & the Costs of Inequality and a double-CD entitled The Audacity of Truth: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama.[2]


  1. ^ a b Bradley, Adam (March 29, 2009). "Book Reviews: 'Between Barack and a Hard Place' By Tim Wise | 'More Than Just Race' By William Julius Wilson". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Tim Wise: One of the Country's Leading Anti-Racist Writers and Activists". Speak Out. Archived from the original on November 13, 2011. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  3. ^ Cook, David (July 2009). "By The Color Of Their Skin: Tim Wise On The Myth Of A Postracial America". The Sun (403).
  4. ^ "Silly Nazis: Encounters With Idiots, from Childhood to the Present". Tim Wise. 2010-11-08. Retrieved 2013-05-28. More to the point, and as regards myself, my Jewish lineage extends only on my Y-chromosome, that is to say, my paternal paternal line, as three of my four grandparents are of Northern European and decidedly non-Jewish derivation.
  5. ^ Wise, Tim (2005). White Like Me. Brooklyn, NY: Soft Skull Press. p. 5. ISBN 1-932360-68-9.
  6. ^ Tim Wise on Race and Racism in America; The Rock Newman Show (44-47 min. mark); December 10, 2014
  7. ^ "Class of 1986, Hillsboro H.S. (Nashville, TN)". Tree52. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  8. ^ "Tim Wise". DePauw University. Archived from the original on June 21, 2010. Retrieved August 18, 2012.
  9. ^ Kadeem (May 7, 2011). "Power of One: Tim Wise". SUAVV. Archived from the original on January 30, 2012.
  10. ^ Lee, Martin A. (Spring 2003). "Detailing David Duke". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. 18 (109): 295–310. doi:10.1023/A:1023250105036. S2CID 36135157.
  11. ^ Applebome, Peter (February 6, 1992). "THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: Republicans; Duke's Candidacy Raises Legal Questions About State Ballot Laws". The New York Times.
  12. ^ White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son; Tim Wise; Soft Skull Press; Pgs. 168-173
  13. ^ Mugo wa Macharia (October 22, 1996). "Reverse discrimination debate causes outrage". Golden Gater. Archived from the original on May 21, 1997.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  14. ^ "About". 29 May 2010.
  15. ^ "A conversation about race". Crampton Auditorium at Howard University in Washington, DC: NBC News. April 16, 2008.
  16. ^ McLarin, Kim (September 3, 2006). "MODERN LOVE; Race Wasn't an Issue to Him, Which Was an Issue to Me". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Tim, Wise (18 September 2010). "Tim Wise F.A.Q". Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  18. ^ Joe Hart (November–December 2010). "Tim Wise: The Confrontationalist". Utne Reader. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
  19. ^ a b c The Stream Team (17 September 2013). "Anti-racism activist gets backlash over Facebook rant". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 24 February 2014.
  20. ^ Harris, Aisha (August 16, 2013). "Are You White? Then You Should Probably Watch This". Slate.
  21. ^ a b Cook, David (July 2009). "By The Color Of Their Skin, Tim Wise On The Myth Of A Postracial America". The Sun.
  22. ^ Time Wise website: "Responding to a Young Reactionary: White Privilege, Judaism and the Making of Sloppy Analogies" March 5, 2015
  23. ^ "Zionism articles". TimWise.org. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  24. ^ "The Book".

External linksEdit