Tim Wise

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Tim Wise
Tim Wise.jpg
Wise in 2011
Born Timothy Jacob Wise
(1968-10-04) October 4, 1968 (age 45)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Nationality American
Education B.A., Political Science
Alma mater Tulane University
Spouse(s) Kristy Cason (1998–present)
Parents Michael Julius Wise and LuCinda Anne (McLean) Wise

Timothy Jacob "Tim" Wise (born October 4, 1968) is an American anti-racism activist and writer.[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]

Early life[edit]

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 was northern European, some Scottish.[4][5] Wise attended public schools in Nashville, graduating from Hillsboro High School in 1986.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8]


After graduating in 1990, Wise started his work as an anti-racism activist after receiving training from the New Orleans-based People's Institute for Survival and Beyond. Wise began his anti-racism work first 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 and Governor of Louisiana in 1990 and 1991, respectively.[9][10]

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.[citation needed]

In 1995, Wise began lecturing around the country on the issues of racism and white privilege and his perceived solutions to them. 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.[11]

From 1999 to 2003, Wise served as an advisor to the Fisk University Race Relations Institute. 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.[12]

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 institutions have been set up to foster and perpetuate white privilege, and that subtle, impersonal, and even ostensibly race-neutral policies contribute to racism and racial inequality today.[13]

In 2010, Utne Reader magazine listed Wise as one of the "25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World."[14]

Wise starred in a 2013 documentary entitled White Like Me.[15]

Personal life[edit]

After living in New Orleans for ten years, Wise relocated to his native Nashville in 1996. In 1998, he married Kristy Cason. Together they have two daughters: Ashton (b. 2001) and Rachel (b. 2003).[16]

Written works[edit]

Video releases[edit]

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]


In 2013, Wise posted a series of comments on his Facebook page in response to criticism questioning his role in the discussion of race in the United States. The comments included remarks that many activists found demeaning to anti-racist work done by people of color.[17] Wise has accepted full responsibility for the remarks, acknowledged their inflammatory nature, and apologized on his Facebook page.


  1. ^ 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. 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. 
  5. ^ Wise, Tim (2005). White Like Me. Brooklyn, NY: Soft Skull Press. p. 5. ISBN 1-932360-68-9. 
  6. ^ "Class of 1986, Hillsboro H.S. (Nashville, TN)". Tree52. Retrieved December 7, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Tim Wise". DePauw University. Retrieved August 18, 2012. 
  8. ^ Kadeem (May 7, 2011). "Power of One: Tim Wise". SUAVV. 
  9. ^ Lee, Martin A. (Spring 2003). "Detailing David Duke". Intelligence Report (Southern Poverty Law Center) (109). 
  10. ^ Applebome, Peter (February 6, 1992). "THE 1992 CAMPAIGN: Republicans; Duke's Candidacy Raises Legal Questions About State Ballot Laws". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ Mugo wa Macharia (October 22, 1996). "Reverse discrimination debate causes outrage". Golden Gater. 
  12. ^ "A conversation about race". Crampton Auditorium at Howard University in Washington, DC: MSNBC. April 16, 2008. 
  13. ^ McLarin, Kim (September 3, 2006). "MODERN LOVE; Race Wasn't an Issue to Him, Which Was an Issue to Me". The New York Times. 
  14. ^ Joe Hart (November–December 2010). "Tim Wise: The Confrontationalist". Utne Reader. Retrieved 19 October 2010. 
  15. ^ Slate
  16. ^ "Tim Wise's Biography". Red Room. Retrieved December 7, 2011. 
  17. ^ Anti-racism activist gets backlash over Facebook rant, Aljazeera America, 17 September 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2014.

External links[edit]