by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The latest issue of National Review features the following disturbing blurb.
Starbucks’s pumpkin-spice latte, a popular seasonal indulgence, has been exposed by two academics as a sinister totem of white privilege in a peer-reviewed paper titled “The Perilous Whiteness of Pumpkins.” Its authors, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia and a professor of southern studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, pose the question, “Why did PSLs [pumpkin-spice lattes] become the symbol of basic white girlness?” They trace the answer to pumpkins themselves, which they conceded “are real, material food plants in addition to being cultural symbols.” Given the existence of a “veritable pumpkin entertainment complex, whose multiple manifestations continue the entanglements of pumpkins, social capital, race, and place,” the role of the pumpkin is difficult to pinpoint. But, in short, pumpkins have a history of being associated with white people and idyllic “rural spaces” in the popular imagination; lattes are luxury items; so combining the two yields a perfect recipe for white privilege. If you thought the calorie count was sufficiently guilt-inducing, think again.
And UNC is not the only Triangle university implicated in the silliness. The UNC professor who co-authors this paper, Elizabeth Engelhardt, is a Duke grad.