“White History Month 2015 is coming and we want your submissions”
“This year, we’re inviting Africa is a Country readers (you too, Elion) to contribute to White History Month 2015. Get in touch using editorial [at] africasacountry [dot] com and let us know what you want to write about. Take a look at what was featured last year to get an idea of what we’re looking for.
The inspiration for White History Month comes from a 2007 column in the Nation by Gary Younge.
Here’s what he wrote back then:
“So much of Black History Month takes place in the passive voice. Leaders “get assassinated,” patrons “are refused” service, women “are ejected” from public transport. So the objects of racism are many but the subjects few… There is no month when we get to talk about [James] Blake [the white busdriver challenged by Rosa Parks]; no opportunity to learn the fates of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, who murdered Emmett Till; no time set aside to keep track of Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, whose false accusations of rape against the Scottsboro Boys sent five innocent young black men to jail. Wouldn’t everyone–particularly white people–benefit from becoming better acquainted with these histories? What we need, in short, is a White History Month””
Last March was the inaugural White History Month here on Africa is a Country, and without tooting too loudly on our own…africasacountry.com
So brilliant. Read the 2007 column also, it’s so good — especially the last paragraph. I’m so sold on the idea.
I feel like I keep on reading things and wondering why I never learned it at any of my truly excellent schools during any of the times I took American history. And, thinking back to my teachers — even those I really loved — and the cultural environment of my classrooms, and wondering where these lessons would have fit or how they would have gone, it’s tough to imagine it going well. There aren’t neat, closed narratives around these things, they have an emotional edge.
So, maybe the solution is to have general cultural awareness with a sourly ironic White History Month — where every year, you have to learn something a little bitter and deeply complicated and hard to swallow and needing to be grappled with and talked about with other people. #PracticeMakesPerfect? → better society?
“It’s no secret that black Americans were the victims and white Americans were the perpetrators and supporters of lynchings, and most people reading this most likely understands this context. After all, it’s not as if these were random crimes. Rather, they played a central role in maintaining white supremacy. The report itself says, “some ‘public spectacle lynchings ‘were attended by the entire white community and conducted as celebratory acts of racial control and domination.”
Yet, as critics have pointed out, the only time “white” was used in the article was to describe the women and girls the black men who were lynched were accused of killing or assaulting.
This sort of oversight is in no way something that only happens in the New York Times or that only happens in the media. But this is the most recent example of the clunky awkwardness that accompanies discussions about the ways white supremacy shaped our nation’s history.”