The Hall of White People
I'm currently making plans to build a fake wing of the American Museum of Natural History. An initial description of the project:
The American Museum of Natural History has a Hall of African Peoples, a Hall of Asian Peoples, and a Hall of Plains Indians, but no museum in the world contains a Hall of White People. Until now.
Inspired by the pioneering work of sociologist Edward Murphy, the Hall of White People will offer an objective perspective on this influential, yet little-studied tribe (Murphy, 1984). Historically, White People have proven difficult to study, as they have little shared biological or cultural heritage. They identify themselves not by any inherent physical or cultural traits, but by their relationship to structures of power and privilege. This exhibition is based upon the simple truth that “White” is not a genealogical category, but a political one. “White” is the designation given to those people who hold a monopoly on the legitimate exercise of violence in a given society.
The Hall of White People will feature life-size dioramas and displays richly illustrating the religious, political, and economic aspects of White people’s daily existence. It will remind us that no one is born White. The Hall of White People will instead present the rituals, daily practices, and mythologies that have allowed generations of superstitious people to believe that they are White. Opening in New York City in the Spring of 2019, it will be accompanied by a series of lectures and performances celebrating White History Month*. This exhibit draws attention to the glaring deficiencies in the real ethnological exhibitions in New York’s Museum of Natural History and other such institutions across the globe.
*Inspired by the call of leading White scholar James Baldwin, White History Month has been described as a "Rousing Month-Long Condemnation of White Culture, Politics, and Identity."
Murphy, Edward. “White Like Me.” Saturday Night Live, Season 10, Episode 9. Originally aired December 15, 1984.