Why I Teach White History Month in February
I have abandoned Black History Month and have been celebrating White History Month every February since 2013.
By Diallo Kenyatta / telesurtv.net

They have had to endure Black History Month every February, not to mention Hispanic Heritage Month, Women’s History Month, and even LGBT History Month.  I agree that Black History Month is impossible to bear without a White History Month.

The whole purpose of setting aside special emphasis months is to focus on the history of historically discriminated groups. It serves to correct past wrongs and inspire oppressed and discriminated people, to reach their full potential. This is to be achieved by focusing on historical events and heroes that members of oppressed groups can look up to and model. We get this, packaged neatly in one short month, but whites are left out.

But who is in more desperate need of positive role models than white people in the U.S.?  Black folks have the saintly Martin Luther King Jr., who was the embodiment of love and forgiveness. The noble Malcolm X, whose story of redemption is iconic as well as epic.  We also have lesser known icons, those who persevered and made great contributions to America and the general pride of Black folks.  Who do white people have for their general pride?  Who is served up to white youth and the general white culture, which truly embodies Whiteness?  George Washington? Mr. never tell a lie? That’s a lie Old honest Abe, friend to Blacks and foe to slavery?  White people should be outraged by the way that American society has misrepresented their culture. White History is constructed on easily disprovable myths, which drive the White masses into psychosis, trying to reconcile those historical myths, lies, and distortions with the reality of the world.  

I have taken it upon myself to help them. It’s sad really, seeing all these white racists yelling about America being the home of freedom, democracy, and opportunity. What depths of cognitive dissonance must they suffer from, to assert that their founding fathers were freedom loving enslavers?  

A page from Thomas Jefferson's record book, (dated 1795) listing the names of his slaves over the years. They numbered roughly 600 in his lifetime, though he only employed about 120 at any one given time. -- Creative Commons Public Domain

Then there’s the historical myth about capitalism and opportunity.  Most whites come from dirt, utter lack, like most poor and working class people in this nation.  The average white American was little better than the average citizen of the Third-World in the time period leading up to WWII. Their families only came into the hyper-consuming middle class as a result of the socialist policies of the New Deal. Yet, White America hates socialism, and credits free market capitalism with bringing them out of the coal mines, sweatshops, and dirt farming, and into the suburban affluence and cubical professions of modern America. This is why they need White History. It is imperative for their mental health. They must understand from which they came, those white men and women who carved this nation into what it is today.

Without White History month white people are left fragmented and disjointed from their heritage, and perhaps confused and unsure of their place in the world.  The myths that most whites are fed about their history don’t just distort their personal self-image, it has real world impacts.

It is devastating to whites and the rest of the world.  The illusion that whites reach their hyper consuming middle class status through morality, hard work, and their own intelligence, instead of government handouts and set asides, are just one of the misconceptions that drives more than half of voting age whites to vote against their own economic and class interest. In their efforts to deny Black single mothers access to food stamps, they have committed economic Hari Kari.  

Poor and working class whites celebrate tax cuts, even when they work for the state or they contract with the state, simply because they honestly think Black people are getting over.

It’s insane. Whites support imperialist and genocidal wars because of their ignorance of their history; they embrace policies that will render the planet unlivable because of their ignorance of history, they attack vulnerable populations who pose no threat to them while embracing and supporting the true threat to their well-being, the corporate elites. 

I have abandoned Black History Month and have been celebrating White History Month every February since 2013.  I seek out the truth of White History, and its impacts on the white majority and the rest of us.  It is truly fascinating.  

If revealing Black History to Black people is supposed to motivate us to be better people, to overcome persistent challenges we face in this society, then why not for Whites as well?

John Brown, a militant abolitionist was executed by the State, for trying to start a rebellion against slave-holders. -- Public Domain

If Whites learn about their radical history, their proud class struggles against the parasitic elites, their defiance of established religions and political powers, maybe they will stop fearing immigrants, “thugs,” and “welfare queens” and once against target corrupt politicians, multinational corporations, and the military industrial complex.  Maybe the fight for social justice and human rights will not be a fringe issue among the white majority; maybe the soccer moms and the white dudes who paint their bellies at football games will take up the struggle and unite with humanity against the capitalist overlords, as opposed to being fodder for the corporate war machine.  

Maybe instead of a Columbus Day parade, we might have Smedley Butler Day Parades. Maybe we can remove Andrew Jackson from U.S. currency and replace him with…, I don’t know, William Lloyd Garrison perhaps.  Who knows?  But none of this has a chance of going down as long as whites remain so damn ignorant of their history, as long White History is presented as one long commercial for industrial and finance capitalism.  

One White Historian accused me of being “anti-White,” asserting that I promote the idea that whites have done only evil things in history. I told her that I wasn’t promoting this idea, White people like her and White institutions promote this idea. They chose to highlight White villains as historical heroes, they chose to have parades, major statues, and epic movies made for the worst of White society; I didn’t make that call.  

Children celebrate Columbus Day in front of a statute float of Christopher Columbus, known as an explorer and also a war criminal, who is still heralded in the U.S. and throughout the West by many. | Creative Commons Flickr JazzGuy

Where is the John Brown national holiday?  Where’s the Karl Marx Institute of Economics, where’s the Eugene Debbs memorial statue? Hell, I’d even settle for an Eleanor Roosevelt signature line of fragrances in the cosmetics department of Macy’s.  Principled people in White history are villainized or ignored, while their society’s savages are polished off and elevated in their culture.

I didn’t make that decision. I was lied to about George Washington and the Founding Fathers too, about WWI and WWII, and all other aspects of White History, since I entered kindergarten. But I, thankfully get to celebrate those that embody true Blackness every winter. I am not left confused by the smooth lines painted over the sharp and jagged landscape carved by White history. They need, no, they deserve a month too. They deserve to reflect at the beginning of the year. They need reminders, TV specials, Budweiser posters, and a special aisle in Target to reinvigorate their Whiteness and align their nature, desires, and past. They need the true heroes of White History, in all their glory, in order to, for good or bad, recalibrate.

I encourage Black people to stop trying to articulate why it’s appropriate to have a Black History Month in the U.S., and just give many Whites what they want. Begin to research and share the facts of White History, post them on social media, and in your community. I promise you, those same people who complain about the absence of White History Month, will either go away or wake the hell up. Win, win.  

#TeachWhiteHistory

Diallo Kenyatta is a writer and activist living in Chicago. You can follow the author on Twitter: https://twitter.com/diallokenyatta

If you're interested in reading more, A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn (free to read online) is a great place to start. - Ed

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Why I Teach White History Month in February