Black History Month (and why we still need it)

With the return of Black History month, I am amazed to still hear the ever dreadful and embarrassing question, “well why don’t we have a white history month?” from my white peers.

Let’s just take a minute to think about that question and what it means or, even worse, how to answer it.

Huffpost Black Voices released a video, just yesterday, that boils down the question and puts it to absolute shame.

Ironically enough, I happen to be learning about white privilege just as Black History month makes its’ return.

White privilege, as described by Peggy McIntosh in her iconic article “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” is an invisible package of unearned assets that can be counted and cashed in each and every day, but to the person taking advantage of such, the package remains completely oblivious.

The question, “well why don’t we have a white history month?” is the absolute epitome white privilege.  Not to be dramatic but, literally every other month, or day for that matter, of the year emphasizes white history…and only white history.  If that’s not a privilege, I don’t know what is.  For just one month  (and one of the shorter ones mind you) the spotlight is cast on a highly marginalized group that, quite frankly, deserves our attention year-round.  We shouldn’t even need a black history month, and yet, questions like these simply reinforce why such awareness is both necessary and important.

If we ALL (including myself) made a conscious effort to be more aware of our “invisible knapsacks” then maybe February would be just another month and ignorant questions like “well why don’t we have a white history month?” would just go away.

-Whitney Roberts


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