GARDNER — Tim Wise, a prominent anti-racist writer and speaker, will kick off Mount Wachusett Community College’s “What’s Next Speaker Series” at the college’s Gardner campus on Friday, Feb. 17 at 11:30 a.m.

Under the theme, “Beyond ‘Diversity’: Challenging Racism in an Age of Backlash,” Wise speaks around the country on the topics of affirmative action, Jews and Jewish Americans, alliance-building, militias, multiculturalism, the civil rights movement, class and labor, racism, death penalty, right-wing movements, democracy, youth and student activism and white privilege.

Wise’s free presentation in MWCC’s theatre is one of four appearances he has scheduled in Mass. during February.

“Unless we talk about these things, we will miss the degree we are implicated in the system,” Wise said.

Wise grew up in Nashville, Tenn., and was raised by parents who believed in desegregation. They sent Wise to a mostly black preschool, and he attended integrated public schools. At Tulane University in the late 1980s, while protesting apartheid in South Africa, he scrutinized what in his life could be traced to white privilege. He filled pages.

Wise has spoken to over 80,000 people in 47 states and on over 350 college campuses. He’s written many essays on race issues and two books, including “White Like Me: Reflections on Race From a Privileged Son.”

Copies of “White Like Me” will be for sale at the lecture for $10. Twenty percent of each sale will be donated to People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, one of the nation’s premier anti-racism organizations and where Wise received anti-racism training. The organization’s national office in New Orleans was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, but its work continues in Fresno, Texas.

Wise’s lecture is sponsored by MWCC’s new Center for Democracy and Humanity and Multicultural Awareness Committee. For more information, e-mail or call Kimberly B. Caisse at (978) 630-9547.