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Black History Month: Why Isn't There A "White History Month"

Why there isn't a White History Month“How come there isn’t a White History Month?” If you’re inserting an eye-roll after reading that question, you’re not alone. Many of us have heard that in response to the celebration of Black History Month, so listen up. Each year, history repeats itself as at least one person whines about Black History Month being ‘racist;’ much like the NAACP or UNCF. Although you might think that answering that question by simply giving the ‘evil eye’ and walking away is a good idea, there is a better way. It’s complicated, but it can be done. Before we tackle that quarrelsome question, allow us a bit of history please.

Carter G. Woodson, author of the acclaimed book “The Miseducation of the Negro,” was the second African-American to graduate with a Ph.D. from Harvard. His focus was history, naturally, and he was interested in educating black people in their history. In a educational system where ‘history’ is often reduced to George Washington, the Boston Tea Party and the like, Woodson wanted more emphasis on how African-Americans contributed to the country in which they lived. As a result, Negro History Week was launched in 1926.

According to ‘The Grio,’ its reception was immediate. “Negro History Week allowed black schools, organizations, and churches a chance to expand their knowledge about black activists, writers, artists, and the movements that defined their history. Over time these celebrations grew to be month-long affairs in many communities, officially becoming Black History Month in 1976.”

Both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas were born in February and that is the reason why Woodson chose February for Negro History Week initially.

To those who always wondered why Black History Month is the shortest month…you’re welcome.

So how do you answer the question, “Why isn’t there a White History Month?” One answer given by a commenter on the website Black history month questions‘Clutch’ had my favorite response. “History is white history. The ‘white’ is silent, like the ‘k’ in knowledge.”

Another awesome retort came from another commenter. “…I agree. The celebration of white history should be confined to one month of the year (as well).”

While you may hate yourself for wanting to laugh at those responses…let’s all take a moment to do just that.

And…we’re back!

If you want to be more diplomatic in your approach to the question, perhaps directing the curious to the classic piece by Peggy McIntosh entitled, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” would be appropriate. McIntosh, a white American, renown feminist and associate director of the Wellesley Centers for Women, wrote the infamous piece after addressing what she called, “men’s unwillingness to grant that they are overprivileged, even though they may grant that women are disadvantaged.”

Instead of focusing simply on male privilege, Peggy incorporated the racial advantages that most white people take for granted, oftentimes unconsciously.

Some people choose to answer the dreaded “Why isn’t there a White History Month,” question in numerous ways: snarky, sarcastic, annoyed, or with sincerity. Instead of angrily lashing out or shutting down when you hear it, take a moment to respond in a way that encourages education.

Both of you just might learn a little bit in the process.

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