Whiteness in Lila Quintero Weaver’s “Darkroom”

Matthew Teutsch
13 min readMar 13, 2022

A couple of years ago, a student told me about on of her classes where the professor was using Lila Quintero Weaver’s Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White in the course. The student told me about Weaver’s book, and I immediately became interested in reading it. Finally, I picked up a copy and read it. In Darkroom, Weaver details her family’s experiences during the Civil Right Movement on Marion, Alabama centering on the events of 1965. As well, she chronicles her family’s immigration from Argentina to the United States, and she explores themes such as western ideas of beauty, fear of losing one’s culture, fear of cultural exchange, xenophobia, and more. All of these coalesce in an examination of whiteness, specifically Eurocentric whiteness. Today, I want to look at a couple of sections that highlight this theme in Darkroom.

After detailing the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson, Weaver discusses Bloody Sunday and the way that the news of the event traveled the globe. In this moment, news crews caught the violence against those who marched from Selma to Montgomery. To represent this, Weaver shows two pages. On the left is Edmund Pettus Bridge and the violence enacted upon that bridge. On the right, she shows the globe with newspapers flying around it. Each paper carries a headline about the event, and Weaver’s narration simply reads, “At last, the world saw.”

Weaver ends this chapter with one more image, a two-page spread of a blossoming tree with the narration, “The third attempt to march to Montgomery succeeded. By now, it was almost April, and the Civil Rights Act of 1965 was on its way to becoming law.” Ending the chapter with this image, Weaver highlights the hopeful nature of the moment, the hope of progress, the hope of a more equitable society. However, the next chapter, “Know Alabama,” undercuts that hope because it exposes the deep rooted racism embedded within the narcissistic belief in the superiority of whiteness. For this chapter, which is titled after Alabama’s 4th grade history book during the period, Weaver depicts a tattered Confederate battle flag, a fitting image for the idyllic narratives of plantation life and the heroic narratives of…

Matthew Teutsch

Here, you will find reflections on African American, American, and Southern Literature, American popular culture and politics, and pedagogy.