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White Like Me is a documentary by Tim Wise’s on his life in a majorly black neighborhood growing up with black friends. It covers his views about white privilege and the structural advantages given to white people as he experienced first hand.
In the documentary, Tim wise chose not to follow the path with the least resistance and setbacks using his white privilege and which would have guaranteed him a safe and assured prosperous career. Instead, he decided to go through all the hitches and disappointments that people from other races and ethnic origins have to go through to experience their plight. Rather than assume their issues and grievances, Tim Wise joined and protested along with the other ethnic groups to show solidarity, support and most importantly understanding of what they are going through. He wanted to let them know that at the very least one white person out there cares for what they have to say and that the world is not completely deaf to minority races. Just like Will Campbell marched with African Americans who were fighting for equity in America instead of intimidating them, Tim Wise together with the other students stood up against the administration as they demanded their rights to be met. It is worth noting that Tim was not exactly affected by the issues that his fellow students raised against the administration yet he was still there to provide moral support.
Wealth provides a wide array of opportunities to Americans and makes it easier for someone to move from one residence to another, adjust quickly to a new job and even respond effectively to an emergency. Parents use their wealth to pay for their children’s education often entirely, if possible, so as not to riddle them with student loans hence giving them an advantage in life from the get go. American workers also use their wealth to create a sustainable retirement plan. All of these cases make wealth the most complete metric to guarantee a family’s economic strength and future.
Unfortunately, wealth is unevenly distributed especially along racial lines as African Americans and other minority races such as Native Americans and Latinos have a very negligible percentage of the wealth that is hoarded by white people. This structural disadvantage against minority ethnic groups began from as early as the 1600s when laws were created that gave the white man a lot advantage over the other groups. For example, at the time, it was very easy for a white person to become a citizen of the United States than for a black person (almost all of whom were still slaves at the time) or a Latino to be accorded the same privilege. This had an economic impact where only white people could get quality formal education that helped them to secure jobs and build a good strong financial foundation for generations to come. African American students, for instance, have to be content with the money their parents made in the last 20 or so years of their usually non-illustrious careers whereas many white students are usually on trust funds that were set up for them by their grandparents since they started building their economic strength earlier. In addition, the systems set in place to protect and assist those with financial needs do not work well for minority ethnic groups. As an illustration, the loans that given in the years between 1935 and 1962 were handed out to more than 98% of white Americans. Another case of financial discrimination was when the GI Bill which was supposed to provide assistance to all service members and veterans only served white veterans but left the other racial groups out in the cold. How, therefore, were the other groups supposed to move forward if they could not get the assistance they so desperately needed.
Despite all of the evidence that points towards racial inequities, many white people have continually and purposefully ignored the adverse effects of the vice. They are more comfortable with making the laws that grant them greater institutional power so that they can stay at the top of the food chain. In this respect, they associate Americans with darker skin color with laziness, crime, anger and other vices in the society. White people explicitly displayed racism when they actively prevented black people from sitting with them at the front of the bus and when they set up white-only schools to bar other races from using them. Financial institutions also set up models that ensured that people of color did not get as good an insurance coverage as white people or favorable loan and mortgage rates (for those who could actually get the loan).
Wise further points out that even if they do not actively show it, there exist white people with implicit racial bias who do not believe that people of color are as qualified as white people are. This has resulted in African Americans being viewed as second-rate citizens and getting subpar treatment from institutions. They end up being twice unlikely to be uninsured and African American children are more likely to die than white children because they do not receive quality health care. To compound the situation, college-graduate blacks who are often their families’ hopes for getting out of the system are more likely to end up unemployed.
However, in a bid to fight the guilt of the last 200 or so years of oppression, structures such as affirmative action have been put in place to try and give people of color an advantage so as to catch up with white people. The result of such systems is that there are white people who might be in genuine need of financial aid but cannot access it in certain neighborhoods simply because they are white and this is what is referred to as reverse discrimination.
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