I was one of those black kids that attended predominately white schools for the majority of my life. Not by choice. My parent’s enrolled me and I attended. I was none the wiser and I don’t regret it. It made me who I am today. It never occurred to me that we were missing a white history month because quite frankly, in every subject, from art to astronomy, the pioneering leaders that I learned about in school, didn’t look like me.
Most were white men with long names that were difficult to pronounce. I thought every month was white history month.
The only time I really learned about black history, aside from what my parents (and church) taught me at home, was in school during the month of February. Mmm?
Let’s not even talk about being the only black kid in class during Black History Month.
As racial tensions escalate in our country, the more I see blatant disrespect for black people and our history.
I mean seriously, in April 2015 Jim Boggess, a deli owner in New Jersey, posted a sign in his store front window that read, “Celebrate your white heritage in March. White History Month.”
If that doesn’t make you cringe, remember when black people celebrated #BlackOutDay on Twitter? My girl Ashley Reese said it best:
“In the midst of police brutality protests, the murder of black transwomen, Oscar snubs, Iggy Azalea (ha), and another year of paltry representation in the media–aside from Shondaland and Empire–black folks are tired. If we aren’t getting ridiculed for the way we look–only to have our cultural trademarks turn into fashion statements on non-black bodies–we’re literally dying. It’s only natural for us to embrace a day dedicated to celebrating our lives and our beauty, our way.”
Thus, #BlackOutDay. As you can imagine, a #WhiteOutDay emerged shortly after.
Why is it that some white people feel entitled to refocus on their narrative instead of making room for the celebration of a marginalized group? Can’t we all be great together?
Now here’s the thing, sometimes I get tired of explaining why we have BET, Black History Month, Black Enterprise and the list goes on and on.
Instead of getting riled up by ignorant coworkers, racist internet bullies and people who simply don’t understand the need for the celebration of blackness, send them this post with some of the most articulate, well informed responses to why we don’t need a white history month.
Why We Have a Black History Month & Not a White History Month…
1. The very existence of black history was denied for generations
“The rejoinder that I and many others usually give (at this point it’s nearly perfunctory) is that the very existence of black history was denied for generations. Either by omission or by naked assertion, the possibility that blacks had contributed not only to American history but indeed to world history was precluded from contemplation, let alone taken seriously as scholarly pursuits.
It is only very recently that this area has been considered worthy of academic exploration. As a result, we have a hole in our cultural understanding, requiring a special effort to acknowledge the role that a previously-excluded group of people played in our heritage.”
2. If you don’t know where you came from, you’re going to have a hard time figuring out where you’re going
“When the late black scholar Carter G. Woodson dreamed up what was then called Negro History Week in 1926, he too dreamed of the day when it no longer would be needed. He imagined a day when every student’s education would include such African-American figures as Crispus Attucks, who died in the Boston Massacre; Matthew A. Henson, who co-discovered the North Pole with Robert Peary, and Benjamin Banneker, the pioneer scientist who helped conduct the first survey of Washington.
It was important, Woodson felt, that African-Americans understand that we had more to our history than our victimization. In fact, there was a much greater all-American story to be told in how mightily many of our ancestors had triumphed despite adversity.”
3. Asking why we don’t have a white history month is simply an echo
“Refocusing on the dominant narrative instead of making room for the celebration of oppressed people is unnecessary. It hurts our efforts to create a just world. Some people interpret messages of positivity for one group as negativity for another. They might say that having Black Entertainment Television without White Entertainment Television is “reverse racism.”
The idea of reverse racism is fundamentally flawed to begin with. To say that BET is inherently racist against white people, you’d have to ignore the existence of the oppressive systems at work in the world, as well as the historical context that led to the establishment of a TV network meant to celebrate Blackness.”
4. White history month happens automatically
“Toure addresses white privilege in America, and offers up a unique solution to rectify the lack of awareness that’s compounding this problem.”
Click here to watch the video.
5. A broad understanding of black history can help to create a broad understanding of American history as a whole
“At its best, history should require us to rethink the things we think we know. Instead of plugging in the names of great black men and women, this history should challenge us.
It should explore the ways that ordinary people helped to shape their world. Good history reshapes assumptions. It forces us to learn from past failures, reassess our achievements, and re-imagine what is possible. Critical engagement with history helps unflatten all the “great” figures our past, and helps us understand more about the journey of the nation.”
6. Black History Month exists to ensure that the accomplishments of African-Americans are properly acknowledged
“In stark contrast to my high school experience, I attended a historically black college—Howard University, to be specific. African-American history was placed on a pedestal and taught year-round because, as Freeman said, it’s American history.
Conversations extended beyond Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, highlighting the efforts of Marcus Garvey, W.E.B Du Bois, and others. More important, they took place during the fall and spring semesters, not just one month during the winter. Like Kanye West said: “Make black history every day, I don’t need a month.”
The other upside is that the depth of these lessons sharpened my insight about racial issues. Hearing the views of other people who looked like me in an academic environment aided my own evolution, which previous scholastic experience helped shape.”
So there you have it. 6 simple reasons as to why we have a Black History Month and not a White History Month. As we journey into February and you hear the question arise, “Why don’t we have a White History Month?” No need to get infuriated. Share this post and carry on!
And for the record, I hope that our community evolves to a place where we celebrate our blackness, our heritage and our contribution to society year-round. Black History Month was created to bring awareness to our accomplishments because it was denied for generations. It’s up to us to recognize our achievements daily.
Do you know a Black hero who often goes unrecognized? Feel free to share below along with 3 facts about them.