The Death of Sarah Burke

White people, more than other racial groups, seem to enjoy taking big physical risks. I was reminded of this upon hearing of the death of White Canadian female halfpipe skier, Sarah Burke.

She was White, beautiful, 29 years old. Great physical shape, obviously. No children born. But she was willing to fling her body into impossible skyward contortions, risking serious injury and death. I’m only just noting the weirdness of it. We Whites will jump out of planes and off buildings, tackle each other, fly planes upside down, you name it. (See “Extreme Sports as a Context of Implicit Whiteness.”)

But assert our own interests as a people in the political arena? The courage shrivels. We get red-faced and flustered. Ashamed. It does fit with all the evolutionary theories—we evolved as physically bold but socially cautious—concerned about the opinions of others, especially in a context framed as having moral implications—because both traits were adaptive. Still, incongruous.

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