Georgia Wiley / by Michael Falco

Who is Georgia Wiley? 

Georgia Wiley was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA in the 1960s and 70s. Her father and mother opened a small business together, instilling their children with values of hard work and education in the process. Religiously, she was raised in the Greek Orthodox Church (she is ethnically Greek). After working in UPS as a corporate level manager for many years, she started her own daycare business, which now serves 185 children and employs over 30 employees. She is married and has three children, two boys in college and a girl finishing up high school.

Excerpt from Georgia Wiley's interview with Whitney Dow, December 2017

Q: What do black people misinterpret or misunderstand about white people?

Wiley: [11:01:34] So, I think what black people misinterpret about white people is that, one, that there is some kind of magic that makes us successful or middle-class or able to save money or drive education as a priority for our kids. Those are the things that get us ahead. But there’s no magic. It’s just simply hard work. And then I think that the other thing is that there is a victimhood mentality that, like I said early on, any failure is now the race card’s thrown out. And if you get an F in school, and maybe the teacher’s white, then it’s because I’m black, you know? So, I think that primarily those are the two things that come to mind right off the bat is that there’s no magic to being successful. Many people have done it, even from the inner cities. And that I think the oppression is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Q: And I guess sort of to sum up then, so you feel that there’s no advantage at all to being white in America at this point in time with the structure that we’re in now?

Wiley: [11:03:12] I’m not sure I can answer that because that’s a pretty deep question. I would say, as opposed to there being an advantage to being white, that there may be disadvantage to being black. And that’s based on those conditions of there are still people who are racist. There’s still some old boys out there that—and between that and I mean, just simple stuff like the language, the culture, the urban culture or whatever, that kind of creates a barrier in itself.

If you’re a business owner and you want to hire employees, and you want to hire the best employees for your business despite race, are you going to hire somebody who comes in and they can’t articulate or they can’t write or they are dressed inappropriately? It doesn’t matter what race they are. That’s not the person you want representing your business. So, I think that’s the disadvantage. It’s creating their own disadvantage by not trying to overcome that. Or those are some of the programs we’ve talked about. And there are people that do that. There are groups that go select kids, and they get them on the right track. And it works.

Q: Is there anything that we haven’t talked about that you really think is important to mention in the context of a conversation like this?

Wiley: [11:04:45] I think you mentioned earlier that, I think, it was like a—is it this or this? And it had to do with the black community getting within their own community and helping, instead of—because there’s a divide within the community. There’s the well-educated, successful black community. And they are actually ridiculed by the other part of the black community. And so, I think it would just be a tremendous opportunity if some way they could bridge the gap, because they’re not going to listen to white people because we don’t know their culture. We don’t understand enough about—at least I don’t understand enough about their culture and how to overcome that mindset. But people who have done it, who have gotten out, you know, who are successful could be a wonderful asset to start making gains and get out of that us-versus-them mentality.

Interview Transcript