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It begins with Wise deconstructing the concept of “the race card”, the idea that African-Americans can get their way by falsely crying “racism”. Wise counters this claim with “the denial card”, the way in which white people assume that African-Americans overexaggerate racism in society and frequently see racism when there is none.
Wise takes this much further, looking at the overly common view among white Americans that racism is not really a problem, a view which is completely undercut by reality (Wise cites a handful of studies that show how clearly racism does damage). Wise’s citations make it look like–at best– about 40% of American whites see the problems of racism in this country. More realistically, that number is down around 6%. And it looks as though the number of whites who think that everything is fine for Black America has remained relatively steady since the early 1960s, in the days of Jim Crow.
What it comes down to is that the denial of the existence of racism by white people becomes a form of racism itself. To think that African-Americans as a whole are incapable of understanding the world around them, to interpret the day-to-day events of their own lives, is to believe that they are inferior, or are afflicted with some sort of lunacy or mental disease. But with decades of whites getting the story wrong and seeing equality where there is none, who’s really the one misinterpretting reality?
I interviewed Wise on my radio show last year, you can catch it here. He walks a tightrope, trying to explain white racism to white people, most of whom do not want to hear about such things. But he’s got a knack for it.
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