Is this entry about race? Or is it merely about the separating one’s laundry?
(bShab 19) The sages are still deliberating about technology/work leading up to shabbat. Here the question is raised about how many days before Shabbat to give your clothers to a gentile launderer. “Rabban Gamliel’s household would give white clothes to the launderer three days before the Sabbath. And coloured clothes even on Friday. From their words, we can learn that white clothes are harder to launder than colored ones.” Subsequently, we also learn (via Abaye and Rashi) that the price on colored clothes is lower – and so launderers of color (1) get paid less.
At a minimum, we see that whiteness has economic implications (well, text only demonstrates this point for antiquity). If you want and own white, you have to pay for it.
Current analogue to the talmudic discussion: The debate over bleaching paper with chlorine in order to get your best whitey whiteness. [Insert here info about the pollution caused by chlorine bleaching of paper and tampons.] Yes, the industry can argue white paper is easier to read. But is that really all that this bleaching debate is about?
Segue now back to the Jewish community today. Intense preference for white shirts among Orthodox and, generally, for Shabbat. What are the unintended environmental implications of this indulgence in white clothing? And how does this preference jive with the construction of race?
Ok, this post is still in rough form. Like many I’ll be doing, it will need revision – suggestions welcome.
 This reminds me that a student at Harvard Divinity School once set up bins to separate “white paper” and “paper of color”. Funny irreverent, or funny dismissive of racism?