According to its final sentence, what this book wants to do is to taxonomize “some of the ways people live now” (258). The modesty of this self-description—mere taxonomy, nothing more; mere surface, no depth—does not seem entirely convincing. The book has an argument. It argues that each of the four styles of living it taxonomizes—their names are “detox,” “binge,” “filter,” and “ghost”—is, in effect, racist. “[W]hiteness becomes a proxy for control when it seems to offer a safe space of retreat (detox) or a privileged position from which to consume the world's information (binge); or a proxy for recognition when it seems to afford new scenes of belonging (filter) or a universalism that abandons appearance (ghost)” (24). If what the book records is a multiform quest for whiteness that requires the erasure of Blackness, then the book is less a taxonomy than an indictment.

In its ambition to offer a...

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