cover image Dispatches from the Race War

Dispatches from the Race War

Tim Wise. City Lights, $17.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-87286-809-0

Educator and public speaker Wise (White Lies Matter) examines white privilege and systemic racial inequality in this collection of previously published essays dating back to 2008. Even the older pieces—such as “Imagine for a Moment,” in which Wise describes “white gun enthusiasts” armed with semiautomatic weapons rallying in Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia, and asks readers to imagine how different the authorities’ response would have been if the protesters were Black—have a deep relevance for today. More recent essays reveal that America is in the midst of a “soft civil war... between those who believe in freedom and those who do not,” by looking at how the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated racial disparities, and by examining how President Trump’s “perpetually overheated rhetoric” has fanned the flames of “anti-immigrant hysteria.” In some pieces, Wise is more provoking than persuasive, such as when he declares modern conservatism “a cabal of hateful, ignorant, antisocial eugenicists intent on removing those they deem inferior from society.” Still, he offers sound advice on how to promote antiracism and “solidarity and empathy across lines of identity.” The result is a bracing call to action in a moment of social unrest. (Dec.)