So we’re thinking about repainting the interior of our house. Some of the walls are a kind of pleasant gray. Others, however, like the bedrooms and bathrooms, are that unique shade of dark Utah subdivision beige that is reminiscent of… well, I won’t finish the comparison. It’s lunchtime around here.
So off we went to the hardware store to find some new hues for our domicile. We were going to do something in an off-white. I’m not sure actual white paint even exists anymore, except maybe as a primer. So we feasted our eyes on the dazzling, not to mention somewhat nausea-inducing, array of paint swatches in various colors. There was no white.
As I mentioned above, white paint no longer exists. Instead, you get shades of white with various cute names like “Meadow Mist,” “Fleeting Cloud” or “Ocean Foam.” They’ve done that to all of the other colors, too, just in case you were wondering. After staring at the selections for as long as they held my interest (which was about three minutes), I told my wife to let me know when she was ready and went to look at the reciprocating saws. To be honest, I have a flair for interior decorating, but I also know where my jurisdiction ends when it comes to home matters.
We picked out some kind of white, and no, I’m not running down the garage to read the labels on the cans so you can know what it was. But we may have to sit down and re-think our plans. White paint, you see, might be racist. I know, everything else already is, and to tell you the truth, I’ve never had enough time on my hands to even think about that. But, apparently, they do in Norway.
The University of Bergen in Norway is very concerned about this matter. It seems this is the issue of our day. The scourge of our times. Climate change be dammed! Picket fences, hospital walls, and eaves across the world are now the harbingers of white supremacy. The problem stems from a Norwegian scientific development called TiO2. This was developed by two Norwegian chemists and led to the creation of the first, non-toxic, pure-white paint called titanium white. This is now a bad thing, and the title of the study is “‘How Norway Made the World Whiter’ (NorWhite).” I kid you not:
Whiteness is one of today’s key societal and political concerns. Within and beyond academia worldwide, actions of revolt and regret seek to cope with our racial past. In the pivotal works in whiteness studies within art and architecture history, whiteness is understood as cultural and visual structures of privilege. The new research project, funded by the Research Council of Norway, addresses, however, a distinctively different battleground for politics of whiteness in art and architecture.
As part of the confessional, the study will show Norway’s role in “establishing white as a superior color.” As to the study, there is a load of academic doublespeak that usually comes with these things, but the takeaway is that the brains behind the effort want to determine the link between whiteness, technological innovation, and resource exploitation. Resource exploitation? That’s asking a little much of a gallon of interior latex gloss, don’tcha think? Researchers will also waste time and money investigating titanium white through a historic and critical lens to determine its effect on art, architecture, and other things. I guess we can give the University of Bergen a break. Norway is a little late to the CRT party, and all of the good topics have probably been taken.
On one hand, it’s kind of comforting to think that universities overseas are as mindless, agenda-driven, and unbalanced as our own — comforting in an “It’s a Small World” kind of way. On the other hand, it is depressing to think that universities overseas are as mindless, agenda-driven, and unbalanced as our own. But as the old saying goes, “Go Woke, get a Ph.D.”
Norway, the country that helped give us Vikings and an elite unit of commandos on skis that kept the Nazis from developing an atomic bomb, is now being reduced to a cadre of simpering, petty fussbudgets, fretting about “racist” paint.