Oil painting "White Members Only" by Hunter Madsen

"White Members Only"

 
TITLE - "White Members Only" 
WHERE - Bank of portable toilets at the Vancouver Sun Run, a 10K street race drawing thousands of participants, whose starting positions in the race were grouped by assigned color, Vancouver, B.C. (2014)

Although it is a world and an epoch away from its analogue, this sign still has the power to startle and ruffle the unconscious because of its unmistakable but entirely accidental overlap with Jim Crow signage segregating the access of Whites and Blacks to toilet facilities in the American South.  As a guilty American ex-pat, my anxious mind keeps replacing the word "numbers" with "members." I find more generally that efforts of this sort, using signage to segregate groups into more advantaged and less advantaged classes, raise in my white, deeply entitled soul a shadowy sense of discomfort, embarrassment, and resentment.  As an insider of the traditional power class who recognizes himself as a stigmatized outsider within that group, I remain in conflict with my own tribal identities.