The Pathology of White Privilege by Tim Wise

Powerful talk on race and privilege from Tim Wise.  Thought this video would add to the discussion nicely.  Freestyle with me, what ya think?

Published by Drew G. I. Hart, PhD

Drew G. I. Hart is a theology professor in the Biblical & Religious Studies department at Messiah College with ten years of pastoral experience. Hart majored in Biblical Studies at Messiah College as an undergraduate student, he attained his M.Div. with an urban concentration from Missio Seminary in Philadelphia, and he received his Ph.D. in theology and ethics from Lutheran Theological Seminary-Philadelphia. Drew was born and raised in Norristown, Pa and has lived extensively in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA as well. Dr. Hart’s dissertation research explored how Christian discipleship, as framed by Black theologies and contemporary Anabaptist theologies, gesture the Church towards untangling the forces of white supremacy and the inertia of western Christendom which have plagued its witness in society for too long. As two traditions that emerged from the underside of violent and oppressive western Christian societies, he found Black theology and Anabaptism each repeatedly turning to the particularity of Jesus in the gospel narratives. From that arises an ethic of solidarity with the oppressed and pursuing liberation in Black theology and an ethic of radical peacemaking and ecclesial nonconformity in the Anabaptist tradition. Each challenge the violent and oppressive logics of mainstream western Christianity and salvage the call to follow the way of Christ. Together in dialogue they deepen our analysis of the churches failures and the need for Jesus-shaped repentance. His work beyond teaching and writing has included pastoring in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, working for an inner-city afterschool program for black and brown middle school boys, delivering lectures and leading anti-racism workshops, collaborating with local faith-based organizers and activists in his city, and doing a broad range of public theology. He is also a co-leader for a local Harrisburg faith-based relational network called FREE Together which has collaborated with POWER Interfaith, MILPA, the Shut Down Berks Detention Center movement, and a little with the Poor People’s Campaign. Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew Hart, has received great reviews by Publisher’s Weekly and Englewood Review of Books. Endorsing this resource, Shane Claiborne said, “This book is a gift from the heart of one of the sharpest young theologians in the United States. Hold it carefully, and allow it to transform you--and our blood-stained streets.” As a text, Trouble I’ve Seen utilizes personal and everyday stories, Jesus-shaped theological ethics, and anti-racism frameworks to transform the church’s understanding and social witness. Trouble I’ve Seen focuses on white supremacy as an overarching framework for understanding racism, with careful attention to its systemic and socializing dimensions. However, unlike sociology textbooks on the subject Dr. Hart also considers the subversive vocation of Jesus and the nonviolent yet revolutionary implications his life ought to have for his followers today. His newest book project is entitled Who Will Be a Witness?: Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance and will be published September 1, 2020. Who Will Be A Witness? invites the church to liberate its centuries long captivity to supremacist practices, and to expand its restricted political imagination in view of Jesus’ messianic reign. The book guides disciples of Jesus into joining God’s delivering presence through scriptural reasoning, historical reflection, practical theology for congregational life, social change theory, and the Christian call to love our neighbor. It is written for congregations, leaders, and students that understand that pursuing God’s justice goes way beyond waiting around for electoral seasons to come around. It is about the ongoing vocation of the Church right now, at the grassroots level, seeking after the wellbeing of their neighbors through faithful, strategic, and concrete action. Drew recently joined the Inverse Podcast team serving as a cohost along with Australian peace activist Jarrod Mckenna. Together they interview interesting people and explore how scripture can turn our ethical imagination and the violent and unjust systems of our world upside-down, which contrasts with interpreting the Bible as a tool for the status quo. Dr. Drew Hart was the recipient of bcmPEACE’s 2017 Peacemaker Award, a 2019 W.E.B. Dubois Award from a Disciples of Christ congregation, and in October 2019, Dr. Hart was chosen as Elizabethtown College’s 2019 Peace Fellow. Each award recognized him for his local and national justice work and public theology. You can find Drew Hart on Twitter and Facebook, or you can catch him as he travels and speaks regularly across the country to colleges, conferences, and churches. Drew and Renee, and their three boys (Micah, Dietrich, and Vincent) live in Harrisburg, PA and attend Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren.

7 thoughts on “The Pathology of White Privilege by Tim Wise

  1. Listened to the entire lecture.
    Listened to the problems addressed.
    Listened for answers and solutions.
    Heard one… I think.

    He stated in the very beginning of the speech that the information he was presenting was information gleaned from listening to people of color.
    The one solution I heard from Tim W.: Listen to people of color.

    So, let me revisit the question posed a few days ago in your last post…
    “Is Race a factor in health care?”
    My new answer:
    Now what?

    1. DR wrote: Listened to the entire lecture.
      Listened to the problems addressed.
      Listened for answers and solutions.

      I can feel your desire for answers and solutions, but I can’t help but think that in a world as broken as our is, some problems are so deeply ingrained within our collective (sub/uc)conscious that looking for answers at first can be just as hurtful as not listening. I’m not suggesting that wanting answers isn’t admirable, but it can and, I fear especially is the case within racial inequality in the United States, is perceived as slightly dismissive. Some hurts, not unlike those Job experienced, require a caring friend who is willing to hear one out and be empathetic. Unfortunately, really hearing and listening are all too often radically different things.

      My heart broke as I watched the video. I’m not sure what I’ll think or feel tomorrow or the day after that. My wife and I lived among the urban (both white and black) poor until very recently and one of the most striking aspects of these various communities was the lack of cooperation and humanity shared between them, particularly on the part of the white poor. This is something I as a white male honestly do not understand. One thing I do believe is that God grieves when he sees it, so I have some obligation to respond in kind. What I should do after that isn’t altogether clear.

  2. Dana, I also had the privilege of hearing him when he came to our college as well. He is on point, thanks for sharing.

    DR, well I know already that you know very well that there are no simplistic answers and solutions to these complex problems. I think though if we can agree on a common problem, (which we have) we can begin trying to answer them. And obviously we don’t only need answers, but for people to buy in to them as well. Sometimes that is the hardest part of it all. The start is definitely being aware of what the problems are though. I am sure we will agree more at times and disagree more other times, but I think the dialogue has been good overall. Hope you do too!

  3. Drew, thanks for bringing this to me. I’m trying to figure out how to expose it to others. As per my comments, let me just say, I am grateful to see the number of whites in the audience. To hear this rhetoric from someone other than a person of color is extremely valuable to the cause of justice. I thank them for having the courage to listen even if they don’t agree. It is definitely a good boost to what has already been a good start, some 120 years ago.

  4. I have heard Tim Wise live twice, and was equally impressed each time. I have his Dvd if you ever want to borrow it. I actually let Ben borrow it once, you know he loves that stuff. The thing that is unique about Tim Wise is that he addresses the issue of race from his context. The discussion of whiteness and privilege is an important conversation, especially one that addresses systemic injustice and does not attempt to leave people stuck feeling guilty. But he is no softy either, it speaks truth boldly. Both times I saw him speak he had a lot of white people in the audience, I think that is the norm for him, especially since his speaking circuit is basically colleges.

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