Idle No More: Where’s White History Month?

The debate has started up again where some are asking why there isn’t a White History Month observed at any point during the year.  They argue that if there’s an African-American History Month (February) and a Native American Indian Month (November) on the books, to be fair, there should also be a White History Month.  After all, white people are part of society as well, so they should benefit from the same kind of attention as other groups, right?

white-history-month
To begin with, white isn’t a race.  For another thing, generally speaking, most white people haven’t struggled under the yoke of oppression.  They haven’t, for the most part, been deprived of their rights.  And they haven’t suffered the eradication or near-eradication of their culture and spiritual beliefs.

You’ve heard some put forth the counter argument that every day is a day in White History Month — twelve months of the year.  And those who bristle at that comment are usually people who have enjoyed white privilege regardless of what social class they grew up in or live in now.

The achievements of white people is something that’s celebrated every day of the year.  When people mention Thomas Edison, nearly everyone thinks of the light bulb.  When people mention Henry Ford, nearly everyone thinks of the first automobiles.  When people mention Albert Einstein, nearly everyone thinks of the quirky Nobel Prize winner who came up with E equals MC squared.

When’s the last time someone mention Dr. Charles Drew?  He researched and developed a technique for blood storage during WWII.  Without that advancement, countless lives would have been lost by medics who wouldn’t have been able to save many of the wounded on the battlefield.  And he was African-American.  Mention his name, and you generally hear crickets chirping.

When’s the last time someone mentioned T. David Petite?  He’s the man who invented “Smart Meter” technology that’s used in a number of industries including utilities and health care.  And he’s Native American Indian.  Mention his name, and most people haven’t a clue about his heritage.

That’s the point.  The inventions, research, and developments of white people are easily recognized as are their names.  Not so with those from minorities.  In other words, when inventions, research, and developments are recognized by the majority of people, it’s usually associated with a white inventor or researcher or developer, or associated with a person that people assume is white.

It’s for this reason, it’s important to have specific dates set aside to celebrate the achievements that have benefitted society that are from other cultures and races.

We don’t need a White History Month because the default setting in most people’s minds is already set at White History Month.  By consciously choosing other programming that plays concurrent to White History programming, this provides a more accurate historical and current picture.  It brings to light what other minorities have brought to the table to improve society.

If you’re still struggling with understanding why it’s not appropriate to have a White History Month, consider this scenario.

You’re in a parking lot and you see designated handicapped parking spots and designated pregnant mother parking spots.  You agree that there should be designated handicapped parking spots and designated pregnant mother parking spots.

But alongside those handicapped parking spots and designated pregnant mother parking spots, do you believe there should be designated “you can park pretty much wherever you want pretty much whenever you want” parking spots?

Such parking spots aren’t marked because it’s understood that those who can park pretty much wherever they want pretty much whenever they want, do just that.  They never think twice about it.

And they aren’t confronted by outraged people for parking pretty much wherever they want pretty much whenever they want because it’s understood that if you aren’t handicapped or you aren’t pregnant, you can park pretty much wherever you want pretty much whenever you want.

Elyse Bruce

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