Why America Needs A White History Month

James Baldwin. Source: MDCarchives (CC)

Mychal Denzel Smith writes for the Guardian:

We need a White History Month.

For anyone who speaks on issues of race publicly, the idea has long been a joke – a retort thrown at you from frustrated white folks who believe they are being discriminated against because there doesn’t exist a special month set aside to celebrate their racial identity. They cry foul at the notion of Black History Month, Black Entertainment Television, Black Enterprise and everything else with “black” in the title – even, sometimes, going so far as to say these things are racist in nature because their names and missions are “discriminatory”. It’s preposterous, but they counter that they need a White History Month to provide balance and equality.

After laughing this off for years, I’m now on the same page.

I don’t mean White History in the same way we (attempt) to celebrate Black History during February, or Women’s History in March. Where these are intended to correct an imbalance in the way history is celebrated from an overwhelming white male perspective, White History Month need not rehash the tales of great white heroism. We need a different approach here.

I mean for us to have a White History Month in the way James Baldwin once suggested a White History Week. During a speech before the National Press Club in 1986, he presented the idea and was later questioned about the seriousness of his remark. He responded:

“I was not joking about White History Week … I’m serious about that. White Americans really do not not know their history, and that’s one of the reasons they’re in trouble. And when I suggest White History Week, I’m not making a parody of Black History Week, but I’m suggesting that the truth about this country is buried in the myths that white people have about themselves. These myths have to be excavated and only can be excavated by white people.”

Most of the history we learn is built on myths. Even the black history we choose to teach in response to eurocentric learning is centered around myths…

Read more here.

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  • 1plakat

    First we need, truthful history month. Shit, last person I talked to about history said the world is 6,000 years old and dinosaurs where buried by the devil to trick us.

  • 1plakat

    First we need, truthful history month. Shit, last person I talked to about history said the world is 6,000 years old and dinosaurs where buried by the devil to trick us.

    • Andrew

      Little do they know, the Bible was written by the devil to trick us.

    • guest

      I hate that in history books they make it as though they only banned the sale of heroin from catalogs because before the 1970s cannabis was believed to be an opioid, so in all the history books they neglect to make the distinction now that cannabis tincture was the most used and sold medicine in america before 1937. 

  • DeepCough

    “Most of the history we learn is built on myths. Even the black history
    we choose to teach in response to eurocentric learning is centered
    around myths. But those myths are meant to help a people reclaim a
    history long denied to them, to instil self-esteem in the face of
    disempowerment.”

    Well, there you have it: this call for a “White History Month” is just a product sold in the name of
    identity politics, which lays the groundwork for the right-wing politics we see today. White people get plenty of celebration, trust me. (Anyone who has watched the History Channel and the History International Channel cannot help but notice that, for one, the History Channel showed numerous and varied documentaries about the Nazi Party–until it started to cover the War on Drugs; and the History International Channel BARELY covered histories of other countries that DID NOT have something directly involving the European continent.)

  • DeepCough

    “Most of the history we learn is built on myths. Even the black history
    we choose to teach in response to eurocentric learning is centered
    around myths. But those myths are meant to help a people reclaim a
    history long denied to them, to instil self-esteem in the face of
    disempowerment.”

    Well, there you have it: this call for a “White History Month” is just a product sold in the name of
    identity politics, which lays the groundwork for the right-wing politics we see today. White people get plenty of celebration, trust me. (Anyone who has watched the History Channel and the History International Channel cannot help but notice that, for one, the History Channel showed numerous and varied documentaries about the Nazi Party–until it started to cover the War on Drugs; and the History International Channel BARELY covered histories of other countries that DID NOT have something directly involving the European continent.)

  • Ted Heistman

    White and black are alchemical designations hearkening back to the Scythian caste system. 

  • Ted Heistman

    White and black are alchemical designations hearkening back to the Scythian caste system. 

  • echar

    I like what Morgan Freeman has to say about history and racism.

    http://youtu.be/LGEDxS5Q4W4

  • echar

    I like what Morgan Freeman has to say about history and racism.

    http://youtu.be/LGEDxS5Q4W4

  • BunkersTrust

    History is bunk. 
    Henry Ford
    History will teach us nothing. 
    CG Jung

    The idea of informing white folks of their history is an interesting concept, but it has no practical means of being implemented and if high school history is any indication, no value either.

    The White People who matter are the Western Elites and they know their history well or at least well enough to continue in power.

  • BunkersTrust

    History is bunk. 
    Henry Ford
    History will teach us nothing. 
    CG Jung

    The idea of informing white folks of their history is an interesting concept, but it has no practical means of being implemented and if high school history is any indication, no value either.

    The White People who matter are the Western Elites and they know their history well or at least well enough to continue in power.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    Hell, America needs History Month, period
    there may never have been a nation more powerful
    whose people know practically nothing of its history
    other than the jingoistic bullshit disseminated in schools

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    Hell, America needs History Month, period
    there may never have been a nation more powerful
    whose people know practically nothing of its history
    other than the jingoistic bullshit disseminated in schools

  • Ted Heistman

    I think “white” is kind of stupid. Its like “no name brand” or “plain”  It would be nice to get past it. But that’s no fair because I’m guilty, being so privileged as I am. I have ancestral guilt or something.

    But this guy just doesn’t like white people, because We are all rich and all of us are thus the oppressor. Just like all Jews are rich bankers. So to me its sounds like a month of “Guns Germs and steel” bullshit.

    Maybe this guy should check out Liberia and see how bad American blacks can fuck up a country.

  • Ted Heistman

    I think “white” is kind of stupid. Its like “no name brand” or “plain”  It would be nice to get past it. But that’s no fair because I’m guilty, being so privileged as I am. I have ancestral guilt or something.

    But this guy just doesn’t like white people, because We are all rich and all of us are thus the oppressor. Just like all Jews are rich bankers. So to me its sounds like a month of “Guns Germs and steel” bullshit.

    Maybe this guy should check out Liberia and see how bad American blacks can fuck up a country.

    • Ted Heistman

       http://www.vice.com/the-vice-guide-to-travel/the-vice-guide-to-liberia-full-length

    • Ted Heistman

       http://www.vice.com/the-vice-guide-to-travel/the-vice-guide-to-liberia-full-length

    • David Howe

       Time to move on to another blog, Ted.

    • David Howe

       Time to move on to another blog, Ted.

      • Ted Heistman

         Did I offend you as a black person or a self loathing white person? Because interestingly enough, I usually don’t offend black people. I mean, but if you want to have a month dedicated to letting everyone know how horrible white people are and how they killed all the Indians and enslaved the blacks. Go for it. It just seems like a stupid exercize to me and it won’t earn you any points with minorities. I think its the wrong lense to look at things in 2012.

        I see this race baiting as a divide and conquer strategy. Its mostly a white thing too. its a weird type of masochism.

      • Ted Heistman

         Did I offend you as a black person or a self loathing white person? Because interestingly enough, I usually don’t offend black people. I mean, but if you want to have a month dedicated to letting everyone know how horrible white people are and how they killed all the Indians and enslaved the blacks. Go for it. It just seems like a stupid exercize to me and it won’t earn you any points with minorities. I think its the wrong lense to look at things in 2012.

        I see this race baiting as a divide and conquer strategy. Its mostly a white thing too. its a weird type of masochism.

        • David Howe

           This is what offended me:
          “Maybe this guy should check out Liberia and see how bad American blacks can fuck up a country.”

          Don’t put words in my mouth.  You have no idea what I think about anything. 

        • David Howe

           This is what offended me:
          “Maybe this guy should check out Liberia and see how bad American blacks can fuck up a country.”

          Don’t put words in my mouth.  You have no idea what I think about anything. 

          • Ted Heistman

             But the premise that people fucked up North America because they are white and that what white people do isn’t offensive? Anyway Liberia is a country of freed slaves that enslaved the indigenous and turned it in to one of the worst places to live in the World.

            So I would say people do shitty things to other people. Civilizations collide people become exploited by those more greedy and more  technologically advanced.

            Blacks aren’t immune from it for being black. Whites aren’t more prone to it because they are white.

            Probably you have some racist view of “the white man’s burden” I don’t.

          • Ted Heistman

             But the premise that people fucked up North America because they are white and that what white people do isn’t offensive? Anyway Liberia is a country of freed slaves that enslaved the indigenous and turned it in to one of the worst places to live in the World.

            So I would say people do shitty things to other people. Civilizations collide people become exploited by those more greedy and more  technologically advanced.

            Blacks aren’t immune from it for being black. Whites aren’t more prone to it because they are white.

            Probably you have some racist view of “the white man’s burden” I don’t.

          • Ted Heistman

             deep inside your indignation is a little voice that says “white people are inherently better so we should expect more from ourselves than this i.e colonialism, imperialism, slavery etc”

            I have no such illusions.

          • Ted Heistman

             deep inside your indignation is a little voice that says “white people are inherently better so we should expect more from ourselves than this i.e colonialism, imperialism, slavery etc”

            I have no such illusions.

          • Ted Heistman

             “those other people don’t know any better etc.”

          • Andrew

            You like to tell others what they really think and feel, don’t you?

          • Andrew

            You like to tell others what they really think and feel, don’t you?

        • kowalityjesus

          isn’t that funny?  People think only certain truths are allowed in a certain context.  I guess some people who fly the banner of “paragon of sophisticated, intellectual objectivity” would rather certain ideas be disallowed in order that they remain capable of maintaining their composure.

        • kowalityjesus

          isn’t that funny?  People think only certain truths are allowed in a certain context.  I guess some people who fly the banner of “paragon of sophisticated, intellectual objectivity” would rather certain ideas be disallowed in order that they remain capable of maintaining their composure.

  • D J Richert

    Get rid of all the racial distinctions. And yes, we do need truth on our history. Not just the truth of the victors. All the truth.

  • D J Richert

    Get rid of all the racial distinctions. And yes, we do need truth on our history. Not just the truth of the victors. All the truth.

  • “Big” Richard Johnson

    A whole month dedicated to people who have good credit?

  • “Big” Richard Johnson

    A whole month dedicated to people who have good credit?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Francis-Miville/1330628616 Francis Miville

    The problem with a white history month is that you will have to put together the history of Arabs, Jews, Germans, Celts, Anglo-Saxons and Latinos…  It would be like having a Black history month in Rwanda for both the Hutus and the Tutsis.  Having a Celtic history month has never posed any problem whenever proposed, neither an Indo-Aryan museum of symbols and traditions.  Black History Months can exist only thanks to non-black influence in predominantly non-black environments.  In that precise sense, Black race is not a race but a social construct, even though it also exists in other realms of human activity as a very definite biological fact.  This is the same reason why there are Gay Pride Parades and not Straight Pride Parades, for in the latter you would have to reconcile the Casanovas, the rank and file husbands and wives, the free exchangers, the Muslim polygamous, and the chaste monks and yogis.  Present-day gayness is a pure political construct used to advance further capitalism over other civilizations to be destroyed, disorganized and disoriented that way, as was Aryan racial purity at an earlier stage of it before it outlived its use to death penalty.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Francis-Miville/1330628616 Francis Miville

    The problem with a white history month is that you will have to put together the history of Arabs, Jews, Germans, Celts, Anglo-Saxons and Latinos…  It would be like having a Black history month in Rwanda for both the Hutus and the Tutsis.  Having a Celtic history month has never posed any problem whenever proposed, neither an Indo-Aryan museum of symbols and traditions.  Black History Months can exist only thanks to non-black influence in predominantly non-black environments.  In that precise sense, Black race is not a race but a social construct, even though it also exists in other realms of human activity as a very definite biological fact.  This is the same reason why there are Gay Pride Parades and not Straight Pride Parades, for in the latter you would have to reconcile the Casanovas, the rank and file husbands and wives, the free exchangers, the Muslim polygamous, and the chaste monks and yogis.  Present-day gayness is a pure political construct used to advance further capitalism over other civilizations to be destroyed, disorganized and disoriented that way, as was Aryan racial purity at an earlier stage of it before it outlived its use to death penalty.

  • Ted Heistman

    If your experience isn’t that of being privileged and an oppressor, this masochistic exercise of racial self condemnation won’t appeal to you. Not because “the truth hurts” but because its not true.

    I’d have to go backwards, in order to feel this way. I’d have to first identify strongly with whiteness. White is silly. There is no country where white people come from. There are Swedes, Germans, Brits, French etc. But “white” is something else.  Its kind of banal really. Identifying with White mainstream culture in America is kind of empty.

    Its kind of a con. Some working class dude saying looking at some rich dude and saying “I’m white like that guy” is kind of bullshit.

    But on the flip side growing up poor and having to feel guilty for being rich is a lot to ask of a person also. So I call bullshit.

  • Ted Heistman

    If your experience isn’t that of being privileged and an oppressor, this masochistic exercise of racial self condemnation won’t appeal to you. Not because “the truth hurts” but because its not true.

    I’d have to go backwards, in order to feel this way. I’d have to first identify strongly with whiteness. White is silly. There is no country where white people come from. There are Swedes, Germans, Brits, French etc. But “white” is something else.  Its kind of banal really. Identifying with White mainstream culture in America is kind of empty.

    Its kind of a con. Some working class dude saying looking at some rich dude and saying “I’m white like that guy” is kind of bullshit.

    But on the flip side growing up poor and having to feel guilty for being rich is a lot to ask of a person also. So I call bullshit.

  • http://www.zoboprepublic.wordpress.com/ zobop republic

    James Baldwin was “deep”!

  • http://www.zoboprepublic.wordpress.com/ zobop republic

    James Baldwin was “deep”!

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