Tim's work against apartheid has received international attention and thanks from Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  This is his second visit to Bermuda and in conjunction with Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda (CURB), is holding public discussions with community leaders and the public to help dismantle racism.


As an outsider, he said he understood why some would prefer him to stay out of Bermuda's affairs but cited the similarities between Bermuda and the United States as the mitigating factor.   When I came I remember people asking why as an American I felt as though I had any place speaking about any issue in Bermuda because after all, the racial context here is so different than the United States. The US and in Bermuda, though different, is not so different to make it impossible for someone who grew up in the US to understand the dynamic here.


Whiteness is something that happens to people of European descent it's a category to which we are placed and it has meaning.


Having an honest and open discussion about racism should not be dismissed as political. Race is seen as dabbling in politics because the churches have not done enough in this area, the schools have ceded that ground and the business community doesn't want to talk about it because it's politically divisive and so it has been left to the political realm.  The reason it ends up getting seen as political football is because we've allowed that to happen, that's our choice.


The history of the USA & Bermuda is a history of white supremacy.  We are not to blame for it, but we need to be responsible for the legacy.  To those white detractors who often claim in Bermuda that slavery did not happen on their watch, he uses the following analogy of inherent privilege and benefits.   We do not get to use the assets of the generations without accepting the liabilities. It's much like becoming the CEO of a corporation, you would not go in on the first day, call in the chief financial officer and demand to look at the company's assets and revenue stream and say, I like our assets and our profits from last year but leave the part about our outstanding debt because I wasn't here when you borrowed all that money; I wasn't here when you ran up all that debt, that was someone else's doing'.   As a society, we don't get to use the assets that have come from past actions and not pay the deficits and not deal with the down sides we have to deal with both.


Those who were born white need to accept that they have privileges because of it - historically.  We must go beyond and commit to doing something in reality.  We must incorporate new procedures and goals in our business lives to achieve diversification.  Get involved with grass roots organizations.  If we do nothing we end up looking for excuses and reasons for inequality.


For more information on Tim Wise, visit his web site at www.timwise.org.