White Like Me documentary Summary & Analysis
I will first say that within the documentary, Tim Wise recognizes his own prejudices that are ingrained in him from predominant white culture. In one example, he questioned whether the two black pilots of the airplane were adequate compared to white pilots. What Wise fails to mention is that he is profiting off of black struggle, lives in a mansion and is a millionaire. He is highly considered the go-to-guy to speak out against racism in the dominant media, and at colleges, while taking the voice away from African Americans.
With that said, Tim Wise's book/documentary "White like me" is a response to the book "Black like me" by John Howard Griffin. The documentary reflects on Wise's involvement of the anti-apartheid movement. He discusses the white privileges written in the constitution and racism built into the foundation of history. Colonialism, slavery, and Jim Crow bled into the laws, customs, norms, language, that benefit the predominant white culture.
Subsequently, some of the programs put in place to aid those disadvantaged did nothing to help
disadvantaged people of color. In fact, FDR was able to pass the New Deal including Social security and other beneficial programs, as long as they excluded domestic service workers and agricultural workers (which meant predominantly people of color.) This gave preferential treatment to whites. Secondly, the dream of home ownership granted mortgage loans to Americans, where 98% of all recipients were white. Third, GI bill was passed to give low cost mortgage, living expenses paid, and paid tuition for veterans, which exclusively benefited whites, and excluded black veterans. These structures have helped whites for hundreds of years, including better educational opportunities, housing and job opportunities. This systematic racism is affecting law, where blacks are disproportionately incarcerated compared to whites, even though crime rates are dropping.
Likewise, these systems of racism has led to the extreme wealth of a select few white families.
Today, the median wealth of white families is 20 times greater than the median wealth of black families (and 18 times greater than Latino/a families). Even college-educated African Americans are twice as likely to be unemployed compared to their college-educated white counterparts. Tea Party members that hide behind "old days" ideology contend that the 1950s was the best decade; but it is a
misconception when in fact it was at 91% compared to the 35% tax rate in 2012.
Consequently, the rhetoric that welfare benefits people of color while undermines work ethic,
does not portray the reality of those welfare recipients. The majority of the people that benefit from
welfare assistance are white. But the media portrays the poor, welfare recipient as black and female
(aka "welfare queen".) White people use a racial code (language) that works to label welfare as
"reparations" for slavery. And this lead to the budget cuts of welfare programs, that ironically victimize the white people too. But, what is getting the attention of some young whites, is the fact that more American black males are incarcerated, on probation or parole, than there was enslaved in 1850. Because of the war on drugs, black males are more affected because of racist law enforcement (even though white, wealthy people are just as likely to be involved in drugs.) Instead, white people are able to get away with criminality, because they are protected by the color of their skin.
Furthermore, white Americans tend to be color blind, in order to dismiss that racism still exists,
and that there is no reason for blacks to not be able to work. This ideology was reinforced when Barak Obama was elected President, it was seen that we live in a post racial society, and that racism ended. Examples of black success undermined the reality of poverty associated with people of color; and actually reinforces enlightened racism. As mentioned on welfare, White politicians use a language to instill/invoke fears about people of color taking all the monetary benefits and taking all the jobs, to reinforce stereotypes, and cover up their own wrong doings of war, police brutality, etc. Then white people think that whites are the victims of racism. White people fear black power, black majority, which is why the narrative behind the election of President Obama was to picture him as a dictator, or African witch doctor. White people associate "their" America as a white America.