Tim Wise, nationally recognized cultural diversity advocate, anti-racist activist, author, and lecturer, will speak on "Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity" at the 2010 Dealing with Difference Institute on Tuesday, May 18, in the Multicultural Center on Western Illinois University's Macomb campus.
The title echoes that of his forthcoming book, a book that explores the inadequacy of colorblindness as a remedy for institutional racial disparities and the inequities inherent in white privilege. Though invoked as a way of moving beyond racial issues, or in Wise's words, as "a rhetoric of racial transcendence," colorblindness leaves white privilege in place both "in public policy and private practice," in our schools, in our workplaces, and in the various other institutions that comprise our society. In his presentation, Wise will "propose an alternative framework for uprooting racial inequity which can be implemented by educators and others right now, with or without the support of public policymakers, new laws, new funding, or any other institutional backing."
In addition to his many articles, book chapters, and Red Room Blog entries (http://redroom.com/blog/tim-wise), Wise has published several important books on racial issues. These include White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White, Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections from an Angry White Male, and Between Barack and a Hard Place: Race and Whiteness in the Age of Obama. In White Like Me, Wise uses incidents from his own life to illustrate the pervasiveness of the privilege European Americans enjoy in the U.S.A., whether or not they are aware of it. While doing this, he explores his own developing realization of the white privilege that has benefited him and his family even though they made no effort to earn it.
Wise continues his examination of white privilege in Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White. As Columbia University Law Professor Kimberle Crenshaw, states in her review of the book, Wise "proves beyond question that every day is affirmative action day for the dominant group in America." Wise insists that as long as this is true, efforts to broaden the scope of civil rights and equity in this country must continue, including in the educational systems that help perpetuate inequity. The essays collected in Speaking Treason Fluently cover a broader range of topics than Affirmative Action, but all contribute to Wise's analysis of racial privilege and its destructive impact on both African and European Americans. His subjects reflect contemporary events, such as Hurricane Katrina and school shootings, and allow him to comment on people who have captured national headlines, if only for a few weeks.
Wise does not veer from his focus on racial privilege in Between Barack and a Hard Place or in his forthcoming Colorblind. Rather, as Jamilah King, writing for Colorlines, explains, Wise incisively shows "how racism and white privilege have morphed to fit the modern social landscape. In prose that reads like his lightning rod speeches," he defines "a more insidious form of racism that actually allows for and celebrates the achievements of individual people of color because they're seen as exceptions, not the rules." It is this move toward colorblindness and complacency in a world that still reflects white privilege and inequities associated with superficial phenotypical stereotypes that Wise will confront in his presentation.
Insightful and provocative, Tim Wise will challenge DWDI participants to examine their own relationship to white privilege and racial inequity, master narratives that have contributed to the identity of the U.S.A. Though their existence is often denied since they can be invisible to many, their impact, like that of other master narratives, defines the values of the nation and can determine the opportunities available to individuals.
Diane Carson will discuss "Gender Representation in Master Narratives" at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18, in an interactive session during which she will focus on an analysis of the representation of women and men (mostly women) in film and television narratives. She will ask DWDI participants to contribute their own critiques of current media portrayals of gender to the discussion and will provide several opportunities for close readings of film clips to uncover the multiple levels of meaning conveyed through those portrayals. Have representations changed over the past decades? What were the dominant roles women played in the past and how have these roles changed? In "real life"? As depicted in the media? In our master narratives, what values and character traits are relegated to women and to men? Who benefits? How? What are the repercussions for a culturally diverse society? These are some of the questions Dr. Carson and DWDI participants will consider.
Dr. Carson, Professor Emerita, St. Louis Community College at Meramec, earned a doctorate in American Studies from St. Louis University and taught film criticism and production courses for many years at SLCC as well as at Webster University in St. Louis. While doing so she was recognized as an outstanding teacher through national, state, and local pedagogy awards and through invitations to lecture internationally on teaching film production and film analysis.
Her publications include several edited and co-edited anthologies: Sayles Talk: Essays on Independent Filmmaker John Sayles; John Sayles: Interviews; Shared Differences: Multicultural Media and Practical Pedagogy; More Than a Method: Trends and Traditions in Contemporary Film Performance; and Multiple Voices in Feminist Film Criticism. Sayles Talk and John Sayles: Interviews provide in-depth studies of this prolific, innovative, and internationally respected independent film director and writer.
The essays in Shared Differences revolve around approaches to film studies that are culturally inclusive; they focus on how educators can integrate multicultural media, including Hollywood feature movies, documentaries and experimental films, into new as well as existing courses. Like Shared Differences, the primary audience for More than a Method is media educators, with the latter exploring the importance and relevance of analyzing film acting. The essays provide readers with a historical perspective on the art and craft of performance in films and examine ways acting styles interact with other film techniques to tell a story and convey the themes of a film. In Multiple Voices, a culturally diverse group of feminist film scholars offers a multicultural spectrum of perspectives on commercial and independent films and in the process shows how films contribute to the master narratives that define society.
Since beginning her teaching career, Diane Carson has been an exceptionally active participant in two important academic film organizations: as a member of the Executive Council of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and as the current President of the University FIlm and Video Association. She also has reviewed films for various print publications and radio stations for over 20 years, a role that has sent her on repeated jaunts to national and international film festivals, including Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, and Telluride.
To all of her roles Dr. Carson brings an awareness of the tendency of many educators to overlook the cultural diversity that defines the U.S.A., a tendency that often reveals itself in easy dismissals of the problematic and stereotypical portrayals of gender as well as class, race/ethnicity, and sexual orientation in media. A major thrust of her work has been to counter this tendency, to challenge these portrayals, and to offer other viewers the tools to do the same. She will be doing this in her DWDI session.