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Film examines how race has historically been used as a political tool

January 27th, 2020

A still from "The Great White Hoax"

A 2018 documentary will be the third offering in the KIPCOR Film Series, Sunday, Feb. 9, at 3 p.m., with a talkback led by journalist Mark McCormick following.

The Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution at Bethel College will screen The Great White Hoax Feb. 9 at 3 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center.

Wichita native, long-time journalist, and former director of The Kansas African American Museum Mark McCormick will lead the talk-back session following the 72-minute film.

It is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken to support the work of KIPCOR.

The Great White Hoax looks at the politics of white grievance, white supremacy and racial scapegoating with the help of teacher and author Tim Wise.

“The timing is perfect to coincide with the start of the 2020 presidential primary season,” said Dan Wassink, KIPCOR senior mediator/facilitator and coordinator of the film series.

The film explores how American political leaders of both parties have been tapping into white anxiety, stoking white grievance and scapegoating people of color for decades to divide and conquer working class voters and consolidate power.

While its primary focus is Donald Trump’s race-baiting 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, the film also widens its scope to show how Trump’s charged rhetoric about African Americans, Latinos and Muslims fits within a longstanding historical pattern of racism and racial scapegoating that goes back centuries in American politics.

“Tim Wise’s analysis couldn’t be more timely,” said Sut Jhally, executive director of the Media Education Foundation, the film’s distributor, and executive producer of The Great White Hoax.

“As politicians and pundits continue to try to sort out how Trump pulled off his victory, and inevitably keep coming back to economic anxiety, Wise forces us to confront just how central race, racism and white anxiety have been to Trump’s ascent.

“Even more importantly, he reminds us that Trumpism, far from being a break with business as usual, is merely the culmination of a decades-long effort to divide and conquer working class voters by tapping into racial fears.”

Wise is the author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama and, most recently, Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich, and Sacrificing the Future of America.

He also travels widely to lecture and provide anti-racism trainings, and appears regularly on American television to offer political commentary.

The KIPCOR Film Series is funded in part through the KIPCOR Peace Lecture Endowment. The final film in the 2019-20 series has yet to be finalized but will screen April 19 starting at 2 p.m. (note time change).

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel is the highest ranked Kansas private college, at #12, in Washington Monthly, Top 200 Bachelor’s Colleges; ranks at #23 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest; is’s highest ranked Kansas small college with the highest earning graduates; stands at #57 among 829 U.S. colleges and universities listed by lendEDU as “Best for Financial Aid”; has the #10 RN-to-BSN program in Kansas according to; and earned its second-straight NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star gold award, based on student service and academic achievement, all for 2019-20. For more information, see  

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.