We Need a Reset Button or Something for White People

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Do you remember Ruben Studdard? Of course you do! That was a rhetorical question! But just in case you don’t, Ruben won American Idol in 2003, back when that actually mattered, and then later that year released his first album, Soulful, which went platinum. Soulful’s most popular single was “Sorry 2004.” Which was a fucking genius song in both conception and execution.


Why? Well, first, the audacity of a pre-emptive nonapology. In the song, he acknowledges fucking up so much in 2003 that he has used up his apology quota, and since he’s going to do better next year, here’s his apology for the entire year. Which could either be interpreted as “I’m tired of saying I’m sorry, so I’m gonna stop doing fuckshit” or “I’m tired of saying I’m sorry. So here today, in 2003, is my sorry for all of 2004. ’Cause I just ain’t saying that shit anymore, b.” This is some Jedi-level gaslighting.

But also, THIS SONG APOLOGIZING FOR 2004 WAS INCLUDED ON AN ALBUM THAT WAS RELEASED IN 2003! This is like a nigga named “Taco Bell” working at Taco Bell.


Ultimately, what Ruben wants in the song is a relationship do-over, where sins of the past are forgotten and they’d be able to start fresh. Songs like this—which make up maybe 67 percent of all relationship-related R&B, blues and country tracks—resonate with people because, well, who hasn’t fucked up and wanted to be able to hit a reset button and start anew? Who hasn’t wished for a convenient do-over where you could treat life like an Etch-a-Sketch board and shake it for a new beginning?

Anyway, before I went to bed Sunday night, I read a statement from Kevin Spacey (whom I’d just watched two days earlier in Baby Driver), in which he acknowledged an allegation that he made a sexual advance against a teen by coming out as a gay man, which is like being accused of murder and coming out as a pescatarian.

And then, Monday afternoon, I attempted to follow the labyrinthic network of lies and deceit and whiteness emanating from the president and the people connected to him. And I watched Sarah Huckabee Sanders, aka Darth Mellie Grant, spin and spin and spin and spin like a top on a Ferris wheel in a waterspout on a pirouetting sperm whale’s ass, and I thought that if “White People” were an Xbox game I copped at GameSpot, I would have returned it by now.

Seriously, can someone check behind Mike Pence’s knees to see if there’s a reset button there? Something we can click, and all the terrible whiteness happening concurrently—the feckless NFL owners, the Terry Richardsons, the Harvey Weinsteins, the Darth Susans, the Darth Trash, the “Make America Great Again”-hatted shit stains with American-flag boxer briefs—would be refreshed back to the home screen?


Can we start again, please? And by “we,” I mean “white people,” and by “again,” I mean “literally, like, back in 30,000 B.C. or something.”

And if that’s not possible, could we find an up-down, up-down, left-right, left-right, select-start somewhere so we could at least have 30 extra lives while we’re attempting to determine how to return this “White People” package without paying the late fee?


Because this white-people shit is defective!

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



If I may quote Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October, “There is no going back..”

You want a reset, go back to the early mid-70s and the Black Power movement and how everyone ended up being killed, put in jail, or being bought off (see Jessie and Vernon for example). Had there been any driving force to push things forward and bring us together after ‘68 but before the Panthers were defanged, we’d be in a differennt place now as the establishment was legitimately shook. But we stopped short of the goal (real laws guaranteeing us something, real reparations like the Israeli’s got from Germany). Folks got tired, went to grad school, had kids, made a life for themselves with well earned but non-sustainable gains. Meanwhile, back at the villans lair, they plotted a long chess game out, refined their methods, got us to check in the ‘80 election, and mate in 2001. Now we are here living with the sorry illusion of a world they built. There is no reset, there’s only the push forward through this muck, against a [prison/military/financial/tech/etc.]complex that’s more powerful than ever. Gird yourselves and your children for the rest of our lives and theirs. What they used to get ahead is running out and now there’s only finger pointing and blame to go around as the East rises. We’ll find friends we never knew we had but have to go through enemies more emboldened and trying harder than ever. Learn your Mandarin and computer code to survive and build community locally. The worst and the best is yet to come.