A nationally known author will visit Charlotte this week to talk about ways people can dismantle racism.
Tim Wise, author of the memoir “White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son,” is a prominent anti-racism activist who addresses issues of “white privilege” in all aspects of culture. He has spoken at more than 800 college and high school campuses, and in 2010 was named one of “25 Visionaries Who are Changing Your World” by Utne Reader.
Wise’s trip to Charlotte was prompted by Trinity Episcopal School, where the faculty has been reading “White Like Me.” The school is working with Mecklenburg Ministries, which pioneered an anti-racism program seven years ago, to sponsor Wise’s visit.
“He’s so very challenging in his words and practical in ways we can implement measures that will help us not only understand the issues of racism but to overcome the issues that affect us, whether we realize it or understand it,” said Maria Hanlin, director of Mecklenburg Ministries.
Wise will speak twice in Charlotte on Jan. 17.
His first talk will be to Mecklenburg Ministries first “Food for Thought” luncheon. He later will be part of Trinity Episcopal School’s annual Freedom Fete celebration in the school’s gymnasium that evening.
Hanlin said Wise is a “powerful speaker and storyteller,” and that leaders have asked him to talk about how to better understand power and privilege and ways to end racism.
Hanlin has invited clergy and elected leaders to the luncheon, including the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. Some spots are still available for members of the community interested in taking an active role in working on race issues.
“We want everybody to be inspired to act,” Hanlin said. “Our conversations are not just to learn, but to say, ‘So, what am I going to do?’ ”
Wise’s talk at Trinity Episcopal School – open to the public – is part of the school’s Embracing Diversity Initiative, which is intended to instill in students an appreciation for and commitment to diversity.
The Freedom Fete celebration honors student leaders and is scheduled close to Martin Luther King Day to connect with King’s model of servant leadership. The school invites speakers to the event who are passionate about social justice, human rights and freedom.
In “White Like Me,” Wise tells stories from his own life that show how white people benefit from racial privilege, regardless of whether they are racist, and he argues that racial inequality and white privilege are ongoing threats to the well-being of people and communities.
For those interested in further discussion and action, Mecklenburg Ministries is organizing interracial groups that will read and discuss “White Like Me” after Wise’s visit.
The Food for Thought luncheon with Wise will be from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 1000 E. Morehead St. Reservations are required: email firstname.lastname@example.org, and indicate if you’re buying lunch.
Wise will speak at 7 p.m. Jan. 17 at Trinity Episcopal School, 750 E. 9th St. The event is free but seating is limited. Reservations: www.tescharlotte.org/timwise.
For more information about Wise, visit www.timwise.org.
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email her at email@example.com.
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