Friday, September 26, 2008

seek "adventure"

Is there something especially white about the pursuit of adventure? Could it be that being white makes people feel more entitled to go wherever they like, using whatever kind of risky, crazy-ass ways of propelling their bodies around they can afford to buy? As if the world really is their oyster?

Consider, for instance, Yves Rossy, the "Jet Man" who recently flirted with death in a flight over the English Channel. Is it any surprise at all that he's a white guy?

LONDON, England -- Swiss adventurer Yves Rossy successfully crossed the English Channel using his homemade jet-propelled wing Friday, the first man to perform the feat.

Rossy leapt from a plane more than 8,800 feet or a mile and a half from the ground, before firing up his jets.

He made the 22-mile trip from Calais in France to Dover in England in a little under 15 minutes.

He began the Friday flight just before 1207 GMT; by 12:15 GMT, Rossy was above British soil and looped over onlookers before opening his parachute, with his wings still strapped to his back.

He touched down in a field near the famous white cliffs of Dover.

"It's not so safe to fly across water if you can't see," Rossy told National Geographic Channel in a live television interview Thursday. "I don't have any instruments, and I need to be able to see the landing site."

The trip across the Channel is meant to trace the route of French aviator Louis Bleriot, the first person to cross the narrow body of water in an airplane 99 years ago.

The "white cliffs of Dover"! Sometimes satire just writes itself.

In the brief clip below, comedian Steve Harvey contributes some additional thoughts on white adventure-seekers.

Here's hoping that in between the bouts of worrying about money -- your money, America's money, the world's money -- here's hoping you can still find ways to have a "wonderful weekend."

Update: Comedian Paul Mooney has a lot more to say on this topic (NSFW).


  1. yeah, this has always bugged me. i know it kind of paints me as some backwards out of shape asian guy (among certain people), but i cannot get with this outdoor adventure nonsense.

    the amount of time, effort, gas, and money it takes to get to "nature" must be like a month's worth of groceries at least. i don't look down on it, but i hate getting looked down on for not doing it.

    i feel it's a white american standard. it does not speak to me at all.

  2. this entry had me laughing alot. You think this will be a start of independent traveling?

  3. I had to get some tissue from tears from laughing out loud. What will be next, solo air travel? "why deal with all those people, when you can fly on your own?

  4. Just wanted to let you know I absolutely adore your blog. A worthy project indeed. Keep up the good work!

  5. This totally made me laugh - because I've noticed this! Always, on those extreme sports or adventure shows I see what my dad would grumblingly call 'crazy white boys.'

    But, like Giles said, it's about disposable income. I mean, up until a week ago when the markets went up in flames, who had more of this 'adventuring' cash? White folks. Not to say that there aren't those brown folk who don't like skydiving and jetpacking off mountains or whatnot - but, really.

    It's like all those 'off the beaten track' travel books - Lonely Planet. It goes back to your earlier posts about whiteness and authenticity and traveling for the exotic. I see adventuring in the same way: it's not enough that you mark your class privilege by taking ski trips - by skiing down mountains no one can reach, the danger and risk makes you 'exotic'! No longer are you White, you are White Adventurer.

    Much more interesting than plain old White.

  6. I'm kind of reminded of something Tim Wise says in "White Like Me":

    "[T]here's something about being white in this country that allows one, even encourages one to take a lot of stupid risks, knowing that nine times out of ten, everything will work out; you won't get busted and you won't go to jail--neither of which black or brown folks can take for granted in the least."

  7. LOL..great post. As a Black woman, I have often wondered why is it that only white people seem to engage in extreme activities that are labeled adventure. I have some theories but since I should be working and not blog reading, I will have to leave it at that.

  8. It may not be PC at all, but the "search for adventure" may be the trait that drove white people to explore and settle all around the globe, whilst delevoping the means to do so along the way.
    It's a double-edge sword in that it can get you killed, though.

  9. Yes indeed, Anonymous, your observation may not be politically correct or "PC" at all, this brief mention of yours of some sort of (innate, perhaps?) white wandering "trait." We wouldn't want to say something that might not be "PC" in a space that's so very apparently "PC" as this blog, would we? Although we would want to briefly comment on the supposedly censorious nature of that space by prefacing our remarks about what we think is missing in that space, because it's unfairly forbidden, with that usefully evasive term, "PC." Wouldn't we.

    You see, I don't like hearing that term, "PC," because people almost always hide behind it. What they're hiding is what they really think, or feel, about how what they're also thinking and feeling is supposedly disallowed in the context in which they've been led to think or feel it. They feel censored, but they want to mark themselves as brave enough to burst through the shackles of unwarranted "political correctness" by noting that supposed censorship, then saying what they want to say anyway, and damn the censors! But nine times out of ten, they're not being censored--they're just setting themselves up as martyrs.

    The other problem with the term is that it's use is a sign of laziness. Even cowardice. I've known people who use the term "PC" all the time, but when I ask them just what they mean by "politically correct," they usually can't even explain it. They're using the term as a kind of shorthand for something they haven't even thought about clearly, usually something about how "liberals" have gotten so powerful that they're able to effectively censor the utterance of "common-sense" thought. So the other form of laziness, and even cowardice, in using the term "PC" is the reluctance to address that supposed censorship and power directly--the decision to say, instead, "this is probably not a PC thing to say, but I want to say it anyway, so here it is, and if you don't like it, that's your problem, because you're one of those overly sensitive PC Police."

    So here's what I'm really wondering, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous--when you saw my post that points out in a humorous way the overwhelming whiteness of adventure seekers, what exactly was it that made you see a need to add a comment about a supposed white "trait," which you think drove white people to explore and settle all around the globe, "whilst developing the means to do so along the way"? What was it that made you think that claim should be added to the discussion here?


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