Tim Wise recently gave the above speech and talked about a recent Newsweek article that focused on the struggling upper-class white male. The whole point of the fairly dumb Newsweek article is not to illicit pity for formerly rich people, it’s to illustrate that the economy is so bad that even Harvard educated CEO’s and Olympic medalists are struggling. The article only mentions that these men are white to get people’s attention, which is usual with Newsweek. All the points made in the article apply to everyone of all races, ages, and backgrounds. Wise, in true racialist form, gets tricked into making this issue about race.
Wise says the Newsweek article ignores the reality of employment disparity among minorities, yet in the opening of the article white middle aged men are explained to be part of a “privileged demo.” After explaining the increase in unemployment of this demographic the article states, “That might not sound bad compared with the plight of younger, less-educated workers and minorities, but it’s a historic change from the last recession… In New York City, men in the 35-to-54 kill zone have lost jobs faster than any other group, including teenage girls, according to new data from the Fiscal Policy Institute.” So while this article does not entirely focus on racial disparity during the economic downturn as Wise would prefer (perhaps like a previous Newsweek article), it does not “ignore” it.
Wise then briefly explains the disparity in unemployment. Unemployment is a big discussion, and will be addressed at length in the near future. The main point that needs to be made is that with all comparisons of different groups there are inevitably variables such as full education, age, region, family structure etc. that will not be accounted for. In other words, different demographics will show different results, which may overlap with some races, but this doesn’t mean race, or racism, is the cause for the discrepancy.
Wise then tries to explain: “because of privilege and entitlement, they [white middle-aged men] have had the hardest time coping with the exigencies of an imploding economy.” Wise says the narrative of “if you’re poor it is your fault” was created by the legacy of white supremacy and is now ironically hurting white people who are out of work even worse due to their sense of entitlement. But Wise’s explanations and the Newsweek article claim the opposite. These men are having textbook reactions to being laid off, they are going through the same family and personal troubles everyone does. They are not coping any differently, and are not blaming anyone, rather they are ferociously looking for new work. This is only Newsweek-worthy because there are enough people who will be serenaded into thinking about the economic downturn in terms of race and class, like Tim Wise and the racialists.