As Wise points out, the topic of this CNN segment is actually the topic of his post -- the differential treatment of differently raced protesters -- but that topic just doesn't interest Martin. As usual for white folks, other things seem more important than racism, which I guess is just, you know, a kind of side issue, something for the minorities to whine about in their limited way, something that actually died a long time ago, and if it didn't die then, it certainly died on that fateful, hopey-changey day that Barack Obama became president (and so on, etcetera, ad nauseam). And just because I as a white person am almost completely surrounded by other white people, and just because practically no white people, including the white-framed corporate media (with the kudo-worthy exception of Don Lemon), find that a racial problem, when it would find similar crowds of non-white people a racial problem, well, that's nothing alarming, or even worth pointing out, really. Unless you've got some kind of old-fashioned ax to grind. Or race-card to play. Or pet cause to promote, because you're really trying to hypocritically advance your own self-interest.
Ad nauseam. I sometimes get nauseous from trying to get obstinate white people to see racism. Do you?
TIM WISE, AUTHOR, "COLOR BLIND" (via telephone): Well, the premise is very simple. We, as a country, tend to view white political anger very differently than anger or even just, you know, activism when it's evidenced or evinced by people of color. I just wanted people to think about, for example, you know, what would the public perception be? What would the discussion be on FOX News, for example, if thousands of mostly black protesters who were angry about some particular bill that was being considered by the Congress went to Washington, surrounded lawmakers on their way to work and yelled at them? Forget the whole spitting or the racial slur piece of it, just the yelling at them to do what they wanted? How would that be perceived? The fact is we know the civil rights movement knew they couldn't act like that. A, they had too much class. B, they realized that if they had done that, they would have been viewed as an insurrectionary mob. Likewise, the comments made by, you know, traditional mainstream conservative talk show hosts are the kinds of things that no black or brown commentator could get away with.
LEMON: I want to let Jenny Beth get in here. Does what Tim says make any sense to you? Does the racial makeup of the movement make any difference in terms of your tea party message?
JENNY BETH MARTIN, CO-FOUNDER, TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: We're ordinary citizens standing and we're standing up for three things -- fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets. And these three principles, they transcend race and they apply to everyone. The out-of-control spending the government is doing right now, it's going to affect our children and our grandchildren. Regardless of race, it's going to affect all of them, and that's what we're concerned about.
LEMON: So you don't think that the racial makeup, you don't think Tim's argument has any credence? You don't buy into it?
MARTIN: I don't -- I don't think so. We don't have --- we don't tolerate racism within tea party patriots. We focus on those core values. And when people aren't listening, sometimes you have to raise your voice.
MARTIN: There's anger out there right now, and anger is OK as long as it's channeled in the appropriate manner.
WISE: You know what, Don? Don, there is a lot of anger on the part of Arab-Americans who are being profiled all the time since 9/11. But you and I both know, and I think Jenny would agree, that if Arab- Americans were to voice their displeasure at racial profiling, and frankly the way in which neither party, Democrat or Republican, have taken it very seriously, and were to go and yell at lawmakers to pass some type of anti-profiling bill, that they would be seen as terrorists. They would be seen as insurrectionary. I mean, that's the difference. And so, Jenny, you know, is talking about her movement not being racist, that's not the topic this evening. The topic is do we perceive mostly white folks' anger over whatever topic, whatever the issue is differently than we would if it was people of color? I think the answer to that question is obvious.
LEMON: Tim, you have a new book coming out, Color Blind, and I think it's very interesting. It's a very provocative point in your book that President Obama, and maybe some Democrats, might be doing the country a disservice when it comes to matters of race. What do you mean by that?
WISE: Well, the argument in the book is a little bit deeper than that. What I talk about in the book is that unless we are willing to call out the problem of racism in housing, in education, in health care, actual acts of discrimination, which I document fully in the book, what ends up happening is that, number one, by not calling it out, we reinforce the denial that is so prevalent, particularly among white America, that the problem is real. The second thing we do is in the case of the president, if he's not willing to call out some of the blatant racism, which I think is behind, for example, the Arizona SB 1070 or the blatant racism which occasionally manifests in some of that tea party opposition, the more radical edge of it, he's not willing to call it out. I think it actually undermines his credibility. When things are that obvious and you're not willing to -- some credibility in the public and that's one of the points I wanted to make.
LEMON: John is sitting here. I don't think John agrees with you.
RIDLEY: I don't quite agree. I do think when there's racism, you've got to call it out. And you see what's going on in Arizona. I don't think anyone has a problem saying that there are elements of this law that are clearly racist. But I do think one of the big problems that we're facing moving ahead in the 21st century, it's more socioeconomic. If you are a person of color --
LEMON: Hang on. Hang on. I'm going to let you finish your point. I'm going to let you finish your point. But even the Congressional Black Caucus and some very prominent leaders, Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, a number of people are saying the president is not focusing on issues that are important to African-Americans. Some are saying the president is not focusing on issues, including immigration is not strong enough on issues,
WISE: Don, it's not just -- it's not just that.
LEMON: Or for brown people. Go ahead, Tim, real quick.
WISE: Don, it's not just that, I mean, the claim that it is mostly socioeconomic. Let's take health care.
I document in the book specifically how the racial disparities in health care between whites and people of color are not mostly about economics. It is not mostly about do you have coverage or do you not. The studies are very clear that the reason people of color, especially black folks, have worst health outcomes are two things. Number one, the cumulative effect of racial bias over time and secondly, the actual dispensation of unequal care by doctors.
RIDLEY: Tim, I would just jump in very quick.
LEMON: John, go ahead.
RIDLEY: Sometimes when we start to segregate some of these issues and say they are merely black issues or white issues, you start to go away from the fact that they are our issues. Again, for people of color who are not economically challenged or doing well, those issues are very different from anyone who is economically challenged and facing those same issues. So I think as we move ahead, yes, we should call it racism when it's there. Again, in Arizona, we see folks doing that, but I think that we do get into a rut as people when they start saying, this is merely a black issue, this is merely a white issue, and not -- and President Obama is president of the United States.
LEMON: And he does have to walk a tightrope when it comes to this.
RIDLEY: I think he does have to walk a tightrope, but he is our president.
LEMON: Yes, yes.
[full transcript here]