February 15, 2015 — “White culture has been on the fritz lately and I’m not sure it is coming back.” So wrote one of my undergraduate students on her final exam a few years back. I remember laughing out loud at the time, but her pithy sentence stuck with me. Somehow, that image of white culture as a broken-down appliance seems to reflect how many of us see whiteness today: it’s an aging relic, unreliable, no longer able to do the job it was designed to do, ready for the junk heap of history.
And yet, still, we seem to need it. We keep it around, like that refrigerator that always ices up. But we’ve learned to regard it with a wary eye. Like people over 30, whiteness just can’t be trusted.