I had not heard of Tim Wise before last week, however, I’m glad I did. Not only is he “common sense” smart, but he is hilarious. In his career, I’m sure he had to find a way to break down that uncomfortable barrier so many of us have when talking about race relations, and what better way to do so then getting people to laugh with good satirical humor! He focused mainly on our need to look out for everyone (not just ourselves), minority income as considerably less then white counterparts, and the toll on health and life expectancy of a person once minority status is attached. By 2030 theU.S.population will be half white people and half people of color. His point was, a society in which half the population is that much worse off then the other half isn’t truly beneficial for anyone of any skin color. I couldn’t agree more.
The part of his speech that was most interesting to me was about the housing and job market collapse. Apparently the underhanded dealings of the mortgage lenders started about 15-20 years ago in lower class, urban, and typically minority neighborhoods; but no one seemed to care. Being five years old twenty years ago, I was ignorant to this fact; the housing market wasn’t on my radar yet. However, once this scheming started to hit white, middle class, suburbia people were outraged. Wise explained it as the “This wasn’t supposed to happen to me” phenomenon. Everything that has been happening to the “white” communities these past few years is something minorities have been dealing with forever. Unemployment rates have always been exponentially higher for people of color, but the mentality has been “It’s because their lazy”. Well what now? Middle class, white people are screaming, “I did everything I supposed to do! This wasn’t supposed to happen to me!” White people have been told that, if you go to college and get a good job, you’ll have a house with a white picket fence, approximately 2.5 children, and a golden retriever; you’ll live the “American Dream”. That thought process is foreign to minorities. It has made been apparent to people of color that furthering their education and status has the slight possibility of improving their situation, but it is never a guarantee.
This topic revolves around the behavior and interaction between groups, therefore, fitting neatly into the study of Sociology. However, there is one main question that has failed to be answered. Where did this sense of white entitlement come from? Most people don’t understand the importance of this or the basis for the existence of “minorities”. In a nutshell, a group is branded a minority and treated as such either for personal gain or a means of control. People who look different then the dominant group (i.e. darker skin) are much easier to locate and keep tabs on. Ideologies are then invented by the dominant group to explain and maintain this system of prejudice and discrimination. In my opinion, it is cruel, unfair, and unnecessary to continue these ideologies in today’s society. The last time I checked this nation was founded on the principle that “All men are created equal”; the Declaration of Independence does not say “Whites only”. Think about it.