Nell Irvin Painter‘s most recent text, The History of White People, dives deeply into the concept of race. With a solid foundation in the research, Painter attempts to find out when, why, where (and by who) humans began differentiating themselves by skin color. It felt more like a journey than anything else: Painter cuddled me into a time machine that dated back to ancient Greece where it is confirmed that human beings were (once upon a time) identified solely based off of geographical location and tribe. It is through the beginning pages that she awakens her reader, sets the pace and informs that “race is an idea, not a fact.” Utilizing this perspective (one I agree with), Painter provides her reader with the option to witness the evolution of a simple thought and how it transformed an entire civilization.
The tone of the text isn’t angry or frustrated. Instead, Painter communicates from a place of humorous and witty wisdom. She confronts many white “scholars” and their research with an effortless ease while also laughing at the absurdity of their churned results.
The History of White People is just that: history.