It’s that time of year. As classrooms and institutions around the nation gear up to celebrate Black History Month, its practice is brought into question. Comments made by those both inside and outside the African American community (ehm, Stacey Dash) state that Black History Month and other establishments geared towards Black people are unnecessary and divisive.
Watch as several people from a variety of backgrounds explain why Black History Month should be a celebrated aspect of American culture, and why White History Month is not only unnecessary, but foolish, ignorant, and dismissive.
Watch the video on HuffPost Black Voices
Haven’t found the video yet; wish there was a link here to click on. I’d like to hear the arguments against white history month and until I do I won’t take a side or voice my opinion about white history month per se. On the other hand I do believe that with all the racial hostility and contention that’s flaring up these days–and whether not it’s warranted or appropriate is not the issue–I think the nation will be well-served by anything that can help us understand one another better, help us walk in each others’ shoes for a city block or two.
That may be part of the reason I (a black female senior) identified with the young white male in Sherman Anderson’s book, Poor White.
Another author who provides a sympathetic story about a person who’d just be an ofay (foe?) is Sharon Ewell Foster in “The Resurrection of Nat Turner: Part One, The witnesses.”
I was an afro-tiki-dashiki-wearing sistuh takin’ a stand against the man back in the day, and I’ve never not been keenly aware of and involved with the struggles of our people in America, and indeed in the world so I was stunned to find myself empathizing with the poor white female who felt it necessary to flog (whip, beat!) Nat Turner. (Good job Sharon Ewell Foster! )
I want to write this word in bold letters, all caps: Understanding. That’s what Black History Month is all about. It used to be called “Brotherhood Week.” Then “Brotherhood Month.” Negro History, Black History, African-American History…it’s all American history, and we don’t get to that without learning about what race means from different sides of the M/D line.
If there’s anything, including so-called integration, that has helped white people “get it”– to the extent they can and will and do — it’s Black History Month. Black pride is one aspect of it, partly because we need to understand and appreciate ourselves as well.
So who knows? A “White History Month done appropriately could enhance and maybe even help moderate our national conversation on race.
On the other hand, another key word that goes with Understanding is Appreciation. It takes understanding to get there. Appreciation doesn’t mean you like everything about somebody, but you’re willing to recognize their humanity, our common humanity. Oh. There’s an idea: How about we institute a Human History Month? It could be comprehensive, address issues of race and class and equaltiy and justice. We could call it “Love Your Neighbors As If (in a global world they are an intricate part of) Yourrself– Day.” We should probably start with one day, one step in the other person’s shoes.