Monday, February 1, 2010

wonder why there's no "white history month"

It's February First, so I can sincerely say -- Happy Black History Month!

I've met a lot of white people who don't ever say that, or if they do, they're not being sincere. Sometimes, I hear white people wonder aloud instead -- or more often, grumble aloud -- "Why do black people get to have their own history month, and white people don't?"

This should be a simple question with a simple answer, but when white people grumble like that, I never seem to have one quick-and-ready response. And then, the responses that I do offer rarely seem to fully address whatever it is that's bothering the grumbler about Black History Month, and about the lack of an annual White History Month.

Sometimes I've replied sarcastically, "Well, it is the shortest month, after all." At other times I've pointed out (paraphrasing Tim Wise), "But white people do have their own history months, lots of them. They just have tricky names, like March, April, May and so on."

If the white grumbler seems more willing to listen, I'll go on to say that I see minority history/heritage months as a way of making up for what's still lacking at all other times in our mainstream cultural, educational, and other societal settings -- that is, a fully integrated and proportionally accurate representation of racial and ethnic minorities. We may be making progress in those terms (and even that's debatable), but we're just not there yet.

These explanations rarely fall on suddenly convinced ears. I can usually tell that something behind those ears is still grumbling, probably something about how "they can do their own separate, special things, and no one calls that racist, but if we want to, then suddenly we're racists. It's reverse racism, a racist double standard!" And so on.

Other forms of this common white complaint about non-white collectivity abound, of course. Here's another example, from a two-minute video that a reader sent me a few weeks ago. This young woman, who identifies herself at YouTube as "futurewhiteoprah," was disturbed enough by the label of a black haircare product to speak out to the world about it:

[UPDATE (2/4/10): As Aiyo notes in a comment below, "The girl removed the video guess she couldn't handle people calling her out on her ignorance cest la vie." The most relevant parts of what futurewhiteoprah said about a black-owned haircare business are transcribed below.]

Here's the most interesting part of futurewhiteoprah's complaint, which she offers after stating that she has no problem with a section in stores labeled "Ethnic Haircare Products":

Well, I'm looking at this little jar, and right here, really little, really hard to see, right there, is a picture of a black lady with black hair, and it says, AMBAI [sic*] member, the Proud Lady, 100% black-owned company, in Atlanta, Georgia. I'm not going to say that Georgia has anything to do with that, because that would be racist.

But how blatantly racist can you be on a bottle of haircare product? "The Proud Lady, a 100% black-owned company." If I made a haircare product, and I said, "The Proud Lady, a 100% white-owned company," I'd be an Aryan, and a supremacist, and a racist, and, I'd be horrible. . . . Do you think that's racist? Cuz I kinda do. It's more racist than "Ethnic Haircare Products." And I'm saying, if I made a haircare product that said "100% white-owned company," I'd be bitched at, a lot. So, let me know what you think.

I find this young white woman's confusion a common one. A lot of white people just don't think it's right or fair that it's widely considered okay for people who aren't white to get together under the name of their race or ethnicity, but it's not considered okay for white people to do that. As with futurewhiteoprah, the main concern of those who complain like this seems to be that they and other white people supposedly can't get together under the banner of whiteness without being labeled "racist"; just why any other groups would want to get together under their own banner is of no concern to them. The grumbling is often less about what "they" do and why they do it, and more about what white people "can't" do.

If such frowning white people would simply ask, "Why? Why do black people and others do some things on their own?" they might stop frowning. A bit of Googling in search of answers might expose them, for instance, to the reasoning of John and Maggie Anderson, an African-American couple in Chicago who just spent an entire year trying to contribute all of their money to black-owned businesses.

As they recently told the Chicago Tribune, that wasn't easy to do, and part of the problem was that they too were faced, "at almost every turn," with "the insistence from some whites that [their] experiment was an exercise in racism." This is a charge that the black-business-supporting Andersons reject:

The Andersons -- he's a financial adviser with degrees from Harvard and Northwestern; she's a business consultant who works from home and has a law degree and MBA from the University of Chicago -- said they came up with the "Empowerment Experiment" to help solve persistent ills surrounding "underserved communities."

They note that African-Americans carry nearly $850 billion in spending power but that very little of that money circulates through those "underserved" communities. Most businesses in those neighborhoods are owned by people of other races who live elsewhere.

Then and now, the Andersons ask critics to look beyond racist implications. In March, they changed the name of their project, originally called the "Ebony Experiment," to "better articulate what's in our heart and what our end game is," Maggie Anderson said.

They contend that robust, black-owned businesses help restore impoverished African-American neighborhoods, which yield less crime, more jobs, less drug abuse, stronger families and better schools.

Indeed, other non-white collective efforts have similarly persuasive -- and decidedly anti-racist -- motives, and results. Again, though, white people who complain about such collectivities rarely seem willing to ask about the reasons for them, so stuck are they on the false idea of a double-standard, and on "not being allowed" to do something that other people are allowed to do.

I've also found that when trying to explain the difference here -- why one form of collectivity is generally okay when the other isn't -- reference to "white supremacy" sometimes helps. Exclusion of non-white people from all-white gatherings smacks of racism because so many examples from the past have been explicitly motivated by just that -- white supremacist desires to separate white people from the supposedly contaminating presence of racial minorities.

On the other hand, such non-white gatherings as history months, black-owned businesses, minority organizations and clubs, and even beauty contests, have often been a response to white supremacy -- a way of reasserting, and even repairing, something about a racial group that white supremacist ideology and practice has long denigrated, and damaged. Throughout the history of the U.S., and of the West more generally, the very concept of whiteness itself has been all about dominance of other people and extraction of their labor and resources. As a result, white people are still the group that's generally on top, which means that there's no corrective reason -- nor a good celebratory one -- for white people to gather together as members of their race.

And one more thing -- unlike racist all-white gatherings (such as that proposed, blockheaded basketball league that's been making the rounds recently), minority racial or ethnic gatherings are rarely exclusive -- from what I've seen, other people are often welcome. Which is not the case, from what I've also seen, when white people get together under the banner of racial whiteness.

So if any white people ever do get a serious effort going to start up a White History Month, I obviously won't be interested in joining them. I would be interested to see, though, if they have any understanding at all of why other racial and ethnic history months and so on exist. Because I'd be willing to be that they don't.

* whitefutureoprah apparently misreads an acronym on the haircare product's jar. AHBAI stands for the American Health and Beauty Aids Institute. As their site explains, "AHBAI is an internationally renowned trade association representing the world's leading Black-owned companies that manufacture ethnic hair care and beauty related products featuring the Proud Lady Symbol. AHBAI members serve Black America by providing jobs and scholarships and by teaching consumers how to recycle their dollars in the Black community."


  1. when white people complain about Black History Month, my response? EVERYDAY of every month is WHITE HISTORY MONTH. We learn about DEAD WHITE MEN everyday in school and we are bombarded with books, plays, films, and music made by dead (and living) white men.

    When I ask them to name a dead famous black playwright or a dead famous black composer, they cannot name one-- but they can name plenty of dead white men!

    we live in a WHITE MAN'S SOCIETY and everything revolves around WHITE PEOPLE, period.

    that always shut them up.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. "white people are still the group that's generally on top, which means that there's no corrective reason -- nor a good celebratory one -- for white people to gather together as members of their race."

    That logic is easily overcome by claiming that white people are an endangered minority, and society is now racist against whites. That's the catch-cry of all white nationalist movements, including the guy who is trying to start the all-white basketball league.

    Especially now that you have a black POTUS. The sky is falling!

  3. And this is what annoys me so. The question of, "Why's there no White History Month?" isn't a new question, and yet every single white person I've ever met who's asked it asks it as though they've really stumbled across something profound. Miss Thang up there, as you pointed out, could have Googled for an answer before bitching, but she didn't do that.

    The ones who want to bitch never do that because it would take away their "moment" of being discriminated against, which in a perverse way, I'm noticing some white folks savor. Remember that whole mess with Beth Rankin's "I Am Not a White Bitch"?

    For me, this is all about the "Such-and-Such" History Month reminding [some] white folks that there are oppressed, maligned people living right next door, but they don't want to think about that. After all, they too could be "ethnic" and they "identify" with most minorites, and so they too know what it feels like to be "persecuted" for some reason or other, thus they too deserve a month to celebrate their own victimhood.

    You know how many times I've had--literally--light-haired, pale-skinned, blue-eyed folks tell me they're Native American and how they "got f@#%ed over before black people did"?


  4. A few years ago, I was in a cab with some friends, headed home from a party. It was mid-January. I had the idea to host a Black History Month party, and my other black female friend in the cab agreed to co-host with me. This particular group of friends was fond of hosting dinner parties and get-togethers for any and every reason. I excitedly turned to the other (white and asian) people in the cab and asked if they thought it was a cool idea. One of them chuckled (as though it was a joke), and everyone else just looked at us in disinterested silence. We never had the party. By and large, I don't think most non-black people care at all about black history month.

  5. I've found a good technique:

    When they ask you why there's no "White History Month" I immediately (and calmly) ask "name 3 famous inventors"

    People struggle to do that, but typically, they're all white. If I'm feeling generous, I go ahead and give them 3 famous black inventors (if not, I ask them to try again and give me 2 black inventors) and say, "and this is why we need Black History Month, because apparently we've done a stand up job of teaching White History while neglecting black people."

    That's a good way to get into it, but follow-up is always necessary because a prepared person will try to suggest that we don't need a month, we just need to alter school curriculum as if that's easy.

  6. When I was in college 2 years ago, I was in our school's Chinese Students Association. Despite the name, people of all backgrounds were welcome, though a majority of the people who weren't of Chinese descent were Koreans. We did have 2 Caucasians in our club however.

    It's the opposite with any club on campus that did not celebrate cultural diversity. I was in the Outings Club, a club that does activities like camping or hikes. I was 1 of the only 2 wait...I mean 1 of the only 2 persons of color in the club. Everybody else was Caucasian. Look to any other club on campus, even those representing other types of marginalized groups like the society of Wiccans or the GLBT Pride Network, and even those are primarily made up of White people. Clearly, Affirmative Action wasn't so discriminatory towards White people on my campus as some White people would like to say.

    This situation sounds a lot like college students who label colleges like UCLA as "United Caucasians Lost Among Asians" or MIT as "Made in Taiwan", calling attention to large populations of a people of color as if it was some sort of failing of the college. Why do White people need a society? They're never the ones that are routinely the minority.

  7. @ thesciencegirl

    As true as that is sometimes, I've learned that disinterested silence often speaks volumes.

  8. that woman and people like her are deliberately ignorant, no point wasting my time arguing with her

  9. If you browsed through the hair products section of almost any store you'll notice one thing right away. White faces. White faces on shampoo bottles, white faces on the skin-care cream/makeup shelf; white faces on prophylactics- baby products and the like. You would think you walked into a special section for the Ku Klux Klan. Whites don’t seem to be able to take the backseat to anything or any cause- even for a month. Whites are so used to being in the forefront in this country (every month out of the year) it pains them to have to defer to the racial other for 30 days.

    The reason blacks have their own banner is because historically, whites did not want us under theirs. Whites would abscond to all-white neighborhoods- worship in all-white churches, played golf at all-white country clubs. Whites learned white history in all-white schools; kept the peace with an all-white police force/juries, and gained powers in all-white political parties. “This is a white man's country: Let white men rule.” Sound familiar?

    Let too many women of color win the Miss America pageant and whites will holler- why don’t we have a Caucasian Miss America? Never mind the fact that it had been just that up until the early 70’s. All white every single year since 1921. Lets not even talk about television programming. I grew up in a time when almost every single show or sitcom was white. Period.

    “On the other hand, such non-white gatherings as history months, black-owned businesses, minority organizations and clubs, and even beauty contests, have often been a response to white supremacy -- a way of reasserting, and even repairing, something about a racial group that white supremacist ideology and practice has long denigrated, and damaged.”

    Blacks could sit on their butts and feel sorry for themselves every time whites excluded them from something, or they could become pro-active. Start their own versions of country clubs- Masonic organizations, churches, educational institutions and the like. You don’t want us in your stuff? Then we’ll build our own. Problem is whites are blind to the racism that keeps us out- then turn right around and complain when we congregate amongst our own. Lest we forget; Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o'clock on Sunday morning." Whites in effect Created the all black magazines- the all-black schools; all-black churches and racially-themed prom celebrations. All because they couldn’t stand to be around US.

  10. Oh god, Oh god. Seeing as she says she wants opinions (the girl in the video), please link her to this thread. Please? lol, as my boyfriend said, with heavy airquotes, "If only ther was some sort of "context" we could place this product in!"

  11. Um i know this has nothing to do with the post but since it is Black History month i thought that maybe you might want to check out this:

  12. @ M. Gibson

    yes, this.

    i grew up in a suburban, predominantly white neighborhood, and got so used to hearing WP say ignorant things about Black History Month, that i pretty much gave up offering rebuttals. it's exhausting to always be the lone voice screaming in the wind. i'm in my mid-thirties now, and i'm still dealing with PTSD from that and other experiences i had there.

    *sigh* kind of like the flea-in-the-jar effect, i guess.

  13. Every time there is an ethnic month (Asain Pacific Islander/Black/Hispanic,etc.) White teens will go up to that specific race and ask them that. When they get the "we learn about white people everyday" answer they just back off until the next ethnic month.

  14. a prepared person will try to suggest that we don't need a month, we just need to alter the school curriculum, as if that's easy

    To which one can answer, It took 40 years in Philadelphia. But eventually the city became the first major district in the country to require an African-American history course* in high school.

    *It might be better to work it into general history courses, but only after CA and TX stop controlling the textbook market.

  15. what a fool, she needs to read the book HairStory. Secondly those questions are stupid I just tell them to google it, so stupid oh and those so called "ethnic" products most of them are crap and most of them are white owned only a small handfull are owned by black people.

  16. In reality, it's no wonder that white folks find a whole month celebrating something that's "not them" totally unacceptable. In Manhattan's Chinatown, where Chinese are a significant amount of the population, I just found out that Chinese New Year's is still not considered a public holiday. WTH?

    Even one day seems to be too much to be recognized, so how hard is it to imagine that a whole month would sit badly with them? POCs don't deserve a month for each group, we deserve full incorporation into the educational system, full incorporation into society, and full recognition as people that matter and belong.

  17. hmmm, Ethnic hair section in walmart, safeway, any grocery or department store, you will find aisles upon aisles of natural or normal hair products. You may have to look really hard to find ethnic hair, if you are lucky. I am beyond tired of young white people playing the reverse racism card.

    The young lady in the video wanting to eliminate anything that promotes or speak of race and racism, she offered no historical references to her own argument. It seems that lot of white people wanting to point out so-called black racism against whites. Even though, i have yet to hear a black police officer being able to pull over young white kids and arrest them for no reason or have their white parents being harassed on a daily basis, but again, she wants to debate about ethnic hair products.

  18. besides disdain for POCs, one of the reason many people seem 'bored' of black history month is bc public schools offer the same facts over and over again- without first establishing why it's important to learn about them.

    you learn about MLK and you learn about 'that guy who did a bunch of stuff w/ peanuts,' but until you establish why it is critical for students, esp. at a young age to learn about this, of course people will be bored. black history month is a waste at public schools(most). if the teachers don't care, why would students?

    on a related note, i live in tx. a place where there are more minorities than whites, particularly mex americans and latinos. but the state legislature is still run by some white conservative racist douchbags who long for the old america and wish that asians would change their names so anglo lawyers can pronounce them.

    now they want to remove the only latin leaders studied, from the curriculum & textbooks: cesar chavez and delores huerta, bc they have not done enough to warrant a place in the history books.

    due to an overwhelming response, they decided to keep him in-- but it is not official.

  19. a Black History PARTY!?? as in a fun, lighthearted gathering where folks let down their hair, get a bit drunk/high, and have a good time?

    about BLACK HISTORY. uh huh. how someone can suggest that after reading this grim, humorless, anger-fueled, rancor-filled, hair-trigger bomb of a blog is beyond me. man oh man, such a 'party' would provide a years worth of indignant, outraged postings here about the awful, clueless, racist things the W attendees did and said.

    i'm not surprised the idea was met with unencouraging silence.

    any WP going to such a party might as well be entering a minefield. i'm trying to think of something a WP could possibly say about 'black history' in a casual gathering of this milieu that would fail to provoke indignation, ridicule, or even inchoate vituperative rage from a sizeable sample of the readers of this blog. i can't come up with much of anything.

    which is not to say i don't find this blog interesting, even valuable...but man, some of you all need to think about dialing down the suspicion level.

    macon, i hope you'll print this. you've seen fit to overuse your gatekkeper prerogative of late w/me. do you so fear the presence of a WP who may not always be entirely with the program here?

    if so, you're being patronizing. nothing i've said is needful of silencing.

  20. @ A-Smith: I like the idea to ask people to name 3 famous scientists.

    @ Kevin: someone tagged "illusions" insisted I was racist because I thought predominantly minority groups are necessary. He didn't care why. And you're absolutely right about HWCUs and the US in general. For example, if there's a shooting but the reporters don't mention the race, it was white people. Cause white people "don't" have race. I guess it's "racist" that the rest of us do.

    I get tired of these questions myself. They're asked with such arrogance and pompousity. Not unlike Columbus "discovering" Americas. The answers to these "questions" are so easily found, sometimes just a little use of common sense. Ie, why can't white people support all-white causes? Answer: do you need to?

    Someone mention the problem could be the repetitiveness of Black history month: ie, same facts over and over again. That's just laziness on the part of educators, and state boards of educations. (Hey! An example of institutional racism.) My suggestion is to follow the start with the same time in history and come forward. There's plenty of scholarship of African history independent of European intervention. True, no one knows who exactly came from where; but we have a good idea. Plus, it's not as though all early settlers were from England, or that all white people know their "mother" countries either. Anyway, if people stop being lazy, we can get the thing done. There's more to black history than Harriet Tubman and MLK.

    As for that question and others like it, I usually like to respond by pointing out that symmetry and equality aren't always the same thing. It's short and to the point. And by the time they've worked out the dissonance of symmetry being unequal to equality, to say anything only highlights their ignorance.

  21. When the authors of America's story start to fully include POC's the need to sinle out one month for the different ethnic groups will cease to exist. You would think that this would be obvious.

    When I was a child it was rare to ever read about any POCs doing anything to forward the progress of this nation. We were always the group who benefited from what White people did for us.

    People are quick to point out that we are racist when we support Black owned companies or causes that highlight elements of our culture. But when I turn on my television what I see is the majority culture still being hearlded as the best.

    I have attended Black History courses with White students. They learn that we are proud of the accomplishments of Black people in the international arena. People need to recognize that all people of different background contribute to the common good.

  22. I solemnly swear to offer rebuttal to any white chump who says "Why isn't there a White History Month?" I hear it every year. I say something - every year. I have lots of responses to it, all have been mentioned here in the comments.

    But I need some help with responses to the "enlightened" people who say, "Everyone's history should be celebrated, not just Black people's." "Yeah... but not everyone was brought here by force BY white people and made to participate in their history and religion while having to ignore and reject their own," usually pisses people off when I say it and loses its effect.

  23. I'm white and I don't complain about the lack of a white history month. I don't like generalizations like this made about anyone. I know that every month brings opportunities to celebrate white history because our people have so much history. Also, I'm just going to add that this new comment form is very annoying.

  24. White, please read the subtitle of this blog.

    If it ain't about you, then there's no reason to make it about you.

    Randy, I block some of your comments because they're "derailing." Do you know what that means? There's a really good web site about ways that happens on blogs like this one (and in conversations like those that take place on this blog); in regards to your most recent comment, about the party idea, you should especially read this part.

  25. What I find so disturbing about that haircare product video is not that the girl thinks the product is racist- it's that the girl seemed so outraged and offended. It wasn't just idle curiosity (which isn't necessarily any better); she really seemed to take the "100% black-owned" label personally, as though it were some sort of personal attack & threat on her whiteness. It just struck me as somewhat absurd because I have similar reactions when I come across things I find particularly disgusting in their blatant racism - and she's displaying the same strong reactions because she feels constricted by being white, and that her whiteness lacks representation?! It's laughable. In a weird way I feel like this almost mocks my ability to be offended, so her offense in fact offends me. If that made sense.

  26. @ white

    >> "[White] people have so much history."

    ...And others don't?

    I could make a couple of, um, "generalizations" about you...

    @ Victoria

    My response to that is usually, "Great! There are 11 other months. Let's get going on it."

  27. There are plenty of days, weeks, and months celebrating so-called white history broken down into various groups/sub-groups (Irish, German, Scottish, music genres, etc.). Working at a predominately white university, you're bound to notice this, so the faux-anger directed at minorities and various history months is just hot air. I'll give props to said university for being aware of Asian, Hispanic, Black, and even LBGT communities in their observance of history days, weeks, and months.

  28. @ plastiknoise- I live in Texas too, and I am so disturbed by the proposed new social studies curriculum that I truly believe I will have to place my son in private school if these "standards" are still in place when my son is in school.

    Not only do they want to remoce Cesar Chavez from the history books, they also take issue with the inclusion of Thurgood Marshall. Other gems- they want to "tone down" discussion of American Imperialism and present McCarthyism in a positive light.

    Home schooling anyone?

  29. randy -

    I'm confused, here. Have you experienced such a situation? I'm being serious; I'd like to know where that response came from because as far as I can tell it's a bit ridiculous. This idea that WP aren't going to participate in a Black History Month party because they don't think they know enough Black history and that if they show up they'll be ridiculed for that fact is beyond me. Help me out here. Have you asked someone a Black History question and been met with disgust? Is that what this stems from?

    You also use a lot of synonymns for the word "angry" to describe this dialogue except yours is definitely the most angry one I read. Don't you think you're being suspicious and unneccessarily critical?

  30. One harks to the life of Marcus Garvey. A man who made a whole movement (the Black Star company) based on empowering black communities and giving them the opportunity to participate in the racist corporate power structure to gain fiscal independence. What did white people do? Destroyed the man, usurped the company, and left the people feeling overcome. Why is there no white history month? Maybe if there was we would finally hear all the things they've done to gain power. Then again white people don't want to hear that, they'd rather just bitch as they take.

  31. @randy, actually I was thinking that the party would be all about good food, relaxing with friends, and maybe having everyone share things like their favorite poem by a black author, a story about an unsung black hero, listen to some good music by black musicans, etc. Just positive, celebratory things.

    Funny how your expectations are of negativity.

  32. wait for it....

    these are people offended because they do not like mcdonald's having a site that caters to black people. these people want 100% control of everything! 99% representation is not enough!

  33. Oh yeah something else I noticed "ethnic" is just a euphemism for black (becasue god forbid calling the kettle black) and the girl thinks that having ethnic instead of black is a good thing.

  34. Theeyepatchguy said...
    "Why is there no white history month? Maybe if there was we would finally hear all the things they've done to gain power. Then again white people don't want to hear that, they'd rather just bitch as they take."

    Mercy I was just thinking the same thing! Maybe if there was a genuine non-biased attempt to document "All" of White History-- the good as well as the bad. With no attempt at formulating a happy ending; maybe we would be more accepting of the idea. Then the whole world could judge for itself. There is a valid reason why minorities in this country are so angry- now show us why. We can start off right Here. "Empire or Humanity? What the Classroom Didn't Teach Me about the American Empire," by Howard Zinn

  35. Another part of white history....
    Douglas A. Blackmon discussing "Slavery by Another Name" on Bill Moyers Journal.
    Part 1
    Part 2

  36. @randy

    I'm with A.Smith; your "vituperativeness" is the angriest thing I've read on this blog. Like it or not, your lashing out is typical of white people who just want to be the center of attention and can't take it when anyone else insists that their own experience is valid. I've heard innumerable fellow white people complain about racism against whites but none has ever actually experienced it (the old "cousin of a friend's uncle" story) or provided a real--as opposed to hypothetical--example when asked to.

  37. sciencegirl, a smith; haven't you noticed what happens when a WP bumbles in here, makes some semi-clueless but basically innocent remark about some aspect of race relations...or even just makes some observation about PoC that happens to be taken the wrong way by someone here?

    ze gets zir head bitten off. cleeeen off at thee neck.

    this happens again and again in thread after thread. have you really, honestly not noticed this? about the only thing a WP CAN safely say here is 'i agree!' 'that's right!' to what a BP has posted. but even that can be tricky as it can be interpreted as Making It All About Yourself.

    see what i mean? please, someone tell me i'm not hallucinating.

    what i said wasn't 'derailment', whatever THAT may ACTUALLY mean on swpd. no, my point was that contrary to sciencegirl's implication that her friend's disinclination to have a black history party springs from latent racism, rather it may rationally be based on the supposition by the WP that the topic of Race is far too hot to handle in casual settings. let the Experts deal with that one. best just to shut up and the idea will be dropped. as it was. people shy away from looking foolish, even more from getting yelled at.

    and i learned just how hot things are from reading this blog. that's all i meant.

  38. @randy, nope, didn't say anything about latent racism. I said my friends were not interested in black history. Given that I know my friends and discuss race with them regularly and have NEVER reacted to them in anger (even when they deserved it), I'm calling your response BS.

    If you would only like to contribute to blogs where your comfort as a WP is of the utmost importance, you may be in the wrong place.

  39. Wow randy is so derailingly bitter and white-as-victim asserting.

    So something that Sciencegirl has to deal with on a regular basis is too much for white people to handle? Or immediately assumed to be hostile towards whites/them? So the idea should be silenced in some way and there is no form of racism in that? ...right~.

    As for the article: It always feels like any celebratory activity or event that isn't immediately aimed at or about white folks is always met with almost pathological antagonism as if it were a grave social harm.

    It's like we're supposed to exist with only what I learned in all my WORLD HISTORY classes and seems to trickle into all my other classes. That being: once you get to the part of history where the Greeks and Romans possess international power, no one else but white folk matter and "the other" should only ever be mentioned as a threat, tool, or aid project to white people or having accomplished something through the use of white resources. Still learning that even in freakin' college.


  40. @randy re: being silenced

    I don't want you to shut up. I want you to wise up. But I'm not holding my breath. My take on what macon has done by keeping some of your posts off board is that he's sparing those who take these issues seriously from having to hear yet again the paranoid screed of a threatened white person. I'm a white person, and I cringe when I read the tired, threadbare arguments that you and others spew here. But I know that they will come anyway.

    People who post what you call semi-clueless or innocent remarks get called out on their cluelessness, yes. That's what happens when someone expresses an objectionable point: people object. That's not silencing; that's responding. It's a conversation, not a series of monologues.

    In characterizing disagreement as violence (heads ripped off), you sound like the wingnuts who demand "diversity of opinion" with the expectation that they can say whatever they want WITHOUT CONSEQUENCES and cry about having their freedom of speech abridged when someone else calls them on their BS. That's not freedom of speech; that's freedom from responsibility. We don't serve that in this country, Pilgrim.

  41. @randy

    "haven't you noticed what happens when a WP bumbles in here, makes some semi-clueless but basically innocent remark about some aspect of race relations...or even just makes some observation about PoC that happens to be taken the wrong way by someone here?"

    hm. i'll take a run at this. your second response was pretty defensive. but if you're able to try and open yourself to my response, it would be really helpful to furthering the discussion.

    by categorizing comments as "innocent remarks" or "semi-clueless", you really let people off the hook too easily. and that's not the type of space we're trying to build here.

    if a commenter visits SWPD and says something that is ignorant/hurtful (or i'll even give you "clueless"), then it is every community member's right to challenge that statement. SWPD is not a place for WP who want to tell the PoC here What Should and Should Not be Classified as Racism, or How PoC Should Appropriately Handle Situations that May or May Not Involve Racism.

    SWPD is a place for PoC (like me) and WP (like our host Macon) who want to deeply discuss issues around race/white privilege. it also seems to be a useful space for WP who want to understand more about race issues in a way that IS NOT supportive of the modes of thinking/ways of being they have become comfortable with (the things that they do that support the continuation of White Privilege).

    in other words, this is not a place to come if you're interested in being coddled. we don't offer high-fives, handshakes, or cookies to commenters who make the same types of denial-filled arguments that we hear All. The. Time.

    that's not our job, and that's not the purpose of this space. if you're interested in honestly exploring issues surrounding White Privilege--cool, welcome to SWPD! but if that's NOT your aim, then i'm not sure what you're doing here (other than reminding us all what White Privilege sounds like).

    your arguments so far on this post are made of the same stuff that PoC have had to listen to forever. they are neither original, nor interesting. and they do not fall within the parameters of the type of discussion we're trying to have. there are PLENTY of blogs you can comment on that are full of members who might have views about race/White Privilege that are closer to yours. you certainly don't have to come here.

    oh, also--"what i said wasn't 'derailment', whatever THAT may ACTUALLY mean on swpd."

    how can you insist that you're NOT derailing, when you say you don't even know what that means here?

    anyway, in case you're interested, your arguments are full of classic derailment tactics (things seen over and over by PoC when they're trying to have serious discussions with WP about race). just for starters, here's what you included:

    --if PoC want to talk with me about race, you have to be calm and rational!

    --i guess i just can't say anything unless i agree with you all the time!

    --you took what i said (or someone else said) the wrong way. it's not racist/i didn't mean it that way!

    --you're all so angry and just too sensitive/suspicious!

    anyway. if you're really interested in this, you should check out Derailing for Dummies. it's a good read:

    there's also the SWPD Comment Policy. that should give you a clue as to why you've been moderated so heavily:

  42. @bloglogger

    ah! i could have just saved myself some rambling and responded with something like what you said. but i get carried away sometimes.

  43. On the issue of "White History Month," I have responded with the "every other month is white history month" rejoinder, but I'm thinking it might be better to engage the questioners and ask where they think Black History Month and other ethnic history months came from. I get the feeling that those who object think that black people petitioned and the white powers that be somehow granted these months as a kind of recompense for ignoring and oppressing them for centuries.

    Do they realize that BHM started as Negro History Week and that February was chosen (not assigned) in the 1920s by the founder of the idea, Dr. Carter Woodson, because of the confluence of important BH dates and Lincoln's birthday in February? Probably not. The reasoning that BHM complainers might trot out to support their objection would, I'm guessing, reveal the nature of their "position."

  44. For white folks not to recognize Black History month should not come as a surprise to anyone. When in the history of this country have white people ever, ever! recognized the contributions of Black people? It’s never happened. So we take a moment to recognize our struggles, accomplishments and achievements and celebrate our resiliency and as is their custom, white folks want to dismiss our history.

    To the white people out there every day is a study in white history. When you roll out of bed in the morning and drive to work, chances are you will be driving on a street named after a white person, if you need to drop off little jimmie, chances are it’s at a school named after a white person. Little jimmie’s history book is nothing more than one big, white, feel good, celebration. Need to drive across a bridge, it will be named after a white person. Need to fly somewhere? chances are the airport will be named after a white person. Need to take a walk in the park, yes, that too is named after a white person, complete with a statue of a white man on a horse. Need to go into a government building, well the statue out front will be of a white person, and of course all the pictures inside will be of dead white people. Need to buy some food, well the images on the currency, yea, all white. Get sick and need to get to the hospital? ............ You get the picture? All these places and things are a constant reminder of white history and whites only contributions to this country. It’s as if no one else existed, and we know that not true, because we all know who did the heavy lifting in this country. Go into the history section of any books store, and you will be overwhelmed with a whiteness of history to the exclusion of all others. Everyone else is ignored or devalued, Such is the white version of history. That's why I need my own!

  45. I agree that when I was growing up we didn't really learn much black history. Except of course for the extensive mentions during the civil war ... which would seem to reflect the concept that once black people were liberated from slavery our debts to them were done and further mention of them was not required. Oh, except for perhaps a mention of the fuss they made over equal rights in the 50's and 60's. I'm mentioning that sarcastically of course.

    "As a result, white people are still the group that's generally on top, which means that there's no corrective reason -- nor a good celebratory one -- for white people to gather together as members of their race."

    I'm not sure about there being no good celebratory reason for white people to gather....composed within the umbrella of white race are a kaleidoscope of ancestral national heritages from which membership is drawn almost exclusively from whites (referring to ancestors of early immigrant families rather than the more diverse nations of today). I wouldn't think of these gatherings as white though they would predominately be white gatherings as the emphasis isn't on skin color.

    My self reflecting question would be though, "Would I feel comfortable about a gathering that was emphasized as a whites only gathering?" or, "Have I heard of a gathering welcoming only black Americans?" The answer to both questions would be no. Gatherings of white people to celebrate being white, versus expressing some national heritage (self-purported Aryans excluded since they are misguided on so many levels), have been historically been to my knowledge completely racist in structure.

    Black gatherings have to my mind been more centered on racial solidarity in the face of an oppressive white culture that was often violently racist in nature. I still can't recall though one event that was billed as a black’s only affair. Probably because they welcomed any open minded white people who might help them further the causes/issues they wanted to address.

  46. @randy

    I've seen people get their heads bitten off in these threads. Sometimes they deserved it, other times they did not. Either way, however, the questions aren't always innocent. There are too many people who ask purposefully hurtful/irritating comments because they think it's funny to get POCs riled up.

    That, though, is NOT the same as your assertion that if a white person attends a black history month party and asks a question about black history which is not to be confused with general questions about race relations or less than stellar questions like "can I touch your hair" or "why is the palm of your hand not black too?", the latter will be attacked and the former have no real place in a party about Black History, wouldn't you agree?

    You're crossing two things here and I feel like your irritation is with things that have happened on this blog, that have been specific to the community on this blog that don't necessarily relate to why thesciencegirl's white friends weren't interested in having a black history month party.

    Anyone serious about these convos on this blog will do their homework, which is as simple as reading a few old posts. Hell, read one post and you know -- ask a stupid question, you'll get more than you bargained for.

    And we've discussed this, and you know this -- this is not about making WP feel comfortable with asking ridiculous questions. The hard conversations are not comfortable and this goes back to the thread on running when the going gets tough

  47. @ Imhotep:

    Actually, that's one of the ways you can tell if you live in a city that still has de facto segregation--there will be one part of the city where the schools are Douglass Middle and Booker T. Washington High, and the area with Wild Forest Hills Acres Elementary and George Washington High. And the kicker is if these schools were built after Brown v. Board.

    I definitely hear you on the bookstores. The Borders closest to me (and this is not very close--the bookstore in my neighborhood wouldn't dare do this) has more books on the 32 year long life of Alexander the Great than the 3000+ years of ancient Egypt. Heaven help them if they were ever so, um, "bold" as to put a book about sub-Saharan Africa in there...

    @ blueshield:

    >> Re: the emphasis on ancestral heritage rather than skin color

    Two quick points:
    1. Given the prevalence of rape by white men of WOC especially (but not only, and not just Black women) during slavery, quite a few POC in the U.S. share the same ethnic heritages. (And of course, through consensual interracial relationships). In fact, I would wager that there are quite a few POC who are more "Irish" than many white people who claim to be thus. So I would argue that there *is* an emphasis on skin color, at least to some extent, even though it goes unspoken.

    2. Let's see, major events in the U.S. often associated with a European ethnic group: German Oktoberfest, French(ish) Mardi Gras, Irish/Irish-American St. Patrick's Day...what do these have in common? Oh, yeah. Alcohol. ;o)

  48. Imhotep said...
    "Need to buy some food, well the images on the currency, yea, all white. Get sick and need to get to the hospital? ............ You get the picture?"

    Such a good point.
    I must say though- I’ve grown quite fond of Benjamin, Jefferson, Washington; well hell the whole gang really. Every time I hand over one of those guys to a cashier I'm acknowledging white history. Boy it would be nice to see a man of color on one of those bills. So whites could come to love and depend on him as much as I love and depend on his counterparts. Very good point...

  49. Hi all- I have enjoyed reading this string, in fact it has made me really want to learn more about African American history. I think it would be truly interesting to learn from all of you smart people out there, and a good way to honor this month as well. Maybe through teaching each other through love and understanding we can actually help each other grow. I know this is taking a little tangent from the topic but maybe this can be a new topic then where everyone contributes a lost story of a truly remarkable African American person in history...?
    My contribution is Josephine Baker. A singer, dancer, civil rights activist, and an all around true beauty. She adopted several children from all ethnic backgrounds to prove to people that people of different colors could be brothers. She refused to ever preform for a segregated audience and was the only woman to speak along side MLK jr at the March on Washington in 1963. She broke the mold in many ways, spoke out with love, stood her ground and did not just stand still... she acted on what she knew to be right. A true inspiration. Her website is:

  50. For all y'all who set randy

    By the time I got to the third "@randy" comment, all I could think was..."Why bother? They've got this down."

    Extra smooches to Macon for putting up with/filtering out this type of crap on a regular basis.

  51. I went to a privite Christian schools during the 60's and 70's and their was no such thing as Black history month.It was all about dead white men,the Constituition, and our "Christian Heritage."
    Last year my 12 year old son choose to do a report on Martin Luther King.It was part of his history class and the students were to choose a historical figure.Well the night befor he was to give his presentation he tells us he's suppose to dress up like Dr.King as that was part of the project too.I realized immediatly I needed to be real careful about how I was going to send him off to school.How was I going to get a tall skinny ass blond kid to look like Dr. King and not insult the mans legacy? So we put him in a suit and tie had him wear a hat.Josh got an A for his presentation and in hindsite I wish I could have been their to see him do "I had a dream".
    As a White person did I handle this situation correctly?

  52. @Willow

    But how many black Americans would know about this heritage or would claim it if they somehow knew generations later? I don't mind the points, but I don't think the first one serves to illustrate anything in particular other then black slaves were raped by white masters of various national origins. You're very correct that anyone's actual racial hertiage in American that's family has been here for a couple generations is in question.

    I completely agree with your 2nd point. :) In a way an alcholic heritage is part of why I don't drink except on a special occasion, like waking up. j/k

    Macon, I don't know if you'd spoken to it before, but have you ever addressed how most white people think they're at least 1/4 Native American and like to brag about it? I'm lost on the broader implications, but it's a large contrast to bragging about other shared racial heritages.

  53. ktb, Josephine Baker is a great choice. She was funny, too. My choice might be Pauli Murray, teacher, biographer/autobiographer, lawyer, activist, and Episcopal priest.

  54. @blueshield

    I think Willow's point is that skin color automatically bars a POC from being accepted into another cultural heritage. I think it works on two fronts, immediate and structural racism. Because we are unconsciously taught to understand ethnicity as race, even if a black person were to stand up and claim his Irish heritage, no one would take him seriously (immediate). And structurally, even if a POC were to claim an ethnic identity that their skin color did not "match", the estrangement that they might suffer from their identified group would push/force another identity upon them, or bar them from identifying as such.

    Also, I'm disturbed about your statement about questionable "racial heritage". Are you conflating race and ethnicity/culture? That's pretty dangerous... I think that's a gateway mode of thinking that allows white supremacy to flourish and run rampant.

    I don't mean to interpret for you, so I apologize if I've misunderstood.

  55. Mine is not a person but an event...
    I wish white teachers could go beyond the standard fare we see every February and focus on the Before. The Middle Passage. If white teachers/students really wanted to learn about black history they could start here. The whippings- rape and the humiliation of being sold like a piece of meat on the auction block. The break up of families and separation of loved ones. To be forced to give up your songs, as well as your heritage; and lastly the one label that distinguishes your natural claim to person-hood; your name.

    What it was like to be crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in a hot dank ship as it heaved, pitched and rolled. The unbearable sensation of hopelessness as you drowned in your own stench. What was it like to not be able to turn around- or not be able to relieve yourself with dignity; to hear the cries of anguish, the screams of people next to you who've lost their sanity. Examine what it meant to be owned by another human being. What it was like as a black female knowing that you were owned body and soul. That your master could satisfy his lusts with you whenever it suited him; for in the eyes of the law a female slave was considered unrapeable.

    Or why not delve into the devastating effects of Jim Crow? Empathy: putting yourself in someone else's place for just a few moments. John Griffin got a taste of it but he didn't like it very much.

  56. I watched the video and it's clear she just doesn't get it. I'm always amazed at the level of blissful obliviousness in these type of situations. Did it ever occur to her that if I were ever to use the products she used, that my hair would be messed up or even fall out?

  57. i really don't think the majority of white people have a problem with black history month. i kind of think it's odd to focus it all into a particular month and forget about it the rest of the year. it makes it seem like it's a different and seperate history. it should just be mixed in with the rest of the curriculum imo. to seperate it creates a classification of history and gives credit to the idea of racial classification which is the problem in the first place no?

    as far as hair care products, black and white people have different hair types so you have to keep those products that are formulated for one or the other seperate and clearly labeled or it would be a disaster for everyones hair.

  58. @Drowned Lotuses

    "Also, I'm disturbed about your statement about questionable "racial heritage". Are you conflating race and ethnicity/culture? That's pretty dangerous... I think that's a gateway mode of thinking that allows white supremacy to flourish and run rampant."

    Actually, I was implying that skin color is definetly only skin deep. Most of us are a mishmash of country or region specific genetic markers. I should have said ethnic heritage to make more sense there. My apologies.

    Anyway, as to your first statement, I can't disagree with any of that. I was really just speaking to event specific gatherings though as opposed to being accepted into the culture altogether. Only because it was in keeping with Macon's post. Like I said though, I agree, it would be difficult for someone perceived to be non-Irish to be accepted as Irish, etc.

  59. @ Drowned Lotuses

    You nailed it. :) Thanks.

  60. @ blueshield,


    stuff white people do: claim they have Native American blood

    From last summer, but it's the thread that keeps on giving.

  61. @Willow

    Thanks. I knew it had to be on here somewhere it was too obvious to have been missed for so long.

  62. As always, so many great comments, especially to those of you who broke it down for Randy.

    @Mike, it sounds like you handled you son's presentation well and I'm glad he thought of doing that himself and that he got an A. Give the little man a high five for me.

  63. @ A. Smith -- I have not experienced quite what Randy envisions (have not gone to a Black History Month party, asked some innocent question and been ridiculed), but I did quietly shy away from attending black history month event last year because I was afraid my presence would somehow offend or disgust someone.

    A good friend of mine happens to be black (I realize there's no way to mention that I have a black friend without causing people to eyeroll and stop reading right here, but it's actually part of the basic premise of the story) and was organizing a black history month event at our office. She encouraged me to attend -- she seemed to think of it in terms of, we're friends, let's attend a party together, yay. But though i never admitted it to her, i was worried that if i was the only white person there (which seemed like a distinct possibility), other attendees might wonder why: am i trying to build my hipness credentials or console my liberal conscience by fraternizing with minorities? Etc. I was worried people would look at me and mentally start running through all the disappointed, disdainful statements I've read on this blog regarding the inevitable racist shortcomings of oblivious purported "white allies," white liberals, and whatnot. Even worse, what if the conversation at the party turned to black history, black culture...anything black? If I stood there silently with an awkward look on my face, that might be racist, but if I tried to join in that might be racist of me too. (I'm not being facetious, here). When I first read thesciencegirl's anecdote, it occurred to me that maybe the white girls acted quiet and evasive because they weren't sure if it was their place to comment, even in a seemingly benign positive way ("yeah! good idea!"), on the party, and/or were unsure whether they'd be welcome to attend.

    I didn't attend my friend's party -- I made up some excuse -- and I could tell she was a little disappointed, and the situation frustrated me. But I didn't behave this way because I don't care about black history month or believe there should be a white history month, or whatever. I just didn't want to piss anyone off.

  64. @yerbird,
    Why— if I may ask— didn't you tell your friend exactly what you said here? (I'm assuming you didn't; I get the impression you just begged off without explanation.) Obviously, I don't know your friend, but based on the one thing I know about her (she warmly invited a white friend to a BHM party) makes me think she would have been receptive. I know I would have been.

  65. "I get the impression." Duh. You say right there that you never admitted it to her.

  66. @karinova: very fair question. I didn't bring it up with her because I've alluded to similar stuff w/her in the past and she's responded in a way that people here might term, um...very "white." Example: she was venting to me about the inconvenience associated with getting her hair relaxed and was discussing its texture and invited me to touch a piece. I did, and kind of laughed awkwardly in the process, and she could tell I found this weird and asked why, and eventually it came out that, you know, it had flashed through my mind that there might be racist connotations to me curiously touching her hair. She was just incredulous and amused by this. She was like, "You think it's racist to touch a black girl's hair? It's just my hair, haha. You're so silly." She grew up in a mostly-white setting and I asked her if asking to touch her hair was something white people routinely did. She was like, I dunno, maybe a once or twice? I can't remember. Shrug. Not a big deal. I'm not condemning her for reacting this way, I just know that other POC might react differently. I suspect this would include some of the POC in attendance at the black history month party. My friend is a very warm, inviting, happy-go-lucky person and I love her, but I do think sometimes there are tensions in certain situations that she doesn't perceive. Then I feel condescending for even thinking this. I don't know.

  67. yerbird,

    bingo. praise the lord! YES. that's exactly what i was envisioning. not that a WP would be quizzed like on a test, but that ze would almost inevitably create some sort of faux pas just almost by BEING THERE.

    in the scenario sciencegirl envisions, what if a big ol' gangly white dood took it upon himself to recite some classic of black lit; langston hughes' 'mother to son' for instance...which is in deep 'vernacular'?

    would that be cool? or, dare i compliment whoever cooked the fried chicken(considering what happened in denver when the schools 'honored' dr. martin luther king on MLK day by...serving Southern Fried Chicken)?

    my point is that there ARE other-and arguably valid-reasons besides bare racism that WP avoid certain situations like the above.

  68. @ randy:

    I haven't read all your posts on this site; my response now just considers the posts ITT. But there could be prior a prior record of posts that people have read that are influencing their response to you now. However, in addition:

    I think the emotional salience of these topics might counsel more earnestness than you've been showing, and if your thoughts were presented with more caution and sincerity, you might get a better reception. Yes, the basic point that

    there ARE other-and arguably valid-reasons besides bare racism that WP avoid certain situations like the above

    is one I agree with. But the use of sarcasm, ALLCAPS, "man oh man," and imagining exaggerated, farcical-to-you scenarios like "big gangly white guy reciting Langston Hughes in black 'vernacular'"-- I wonder if this causes some of your posts to come across as more callous and mocking than than you intend? (Or maybe you do intend to convey that tone. I'm allowing for the possibility that that's not the case because I know a lot of people find it boring to take things literally all the time and like spicing up everything they say with bits of irreverence and hyperbole, and this just becomes a habit...and maybe this is your situation).

    I do empathize with your frustration at the hair-trigger ease with which the "derailing!" dismissal is sometimes applied. That said, I also agree with A. Smith that

    You're crossing two things here and I feel like your irritation is with things that have happened on this blog, that have been specific to the community on this blog that don't necessarily relate to why thesciencegirl's white friends weren't interested in having a black history month party.

    Moreover, even if it's true that the rules and norms of this space are "unfair" to WP, spaces like this are created specifically to provide an oasis from a world wherein those norms are all too often unfairly skewed the other way.

    /unsolicited advice.

  69. Before I go further, I want to say, though this dialogue with randy and yerbird is not quite on topic, it's a healthy side conversation that I hope other people will jump into (and won't view as derailing and understand why it's not derailing)


    You know what really sucks about spaces like these? The inability to really get to know people. I mean, that's not the point of this space, this space functions as well as it can for it's purpose -- but it still sucks.

    I say that to say that despite similar experiences, not all black people read stuff the same way. Not that you think that, but to say that it gets tricky when you start trying to blindly assign "rules" to interactions. For one, you'll never memorize all the rules and for two, even if there WERE a manual, we'd all be able to produce 5-6 people for whom the rules don't apply.

    Outside of this race thing, we all understand the premise that you can't please everyone. It's not possible.

    While I understand your hesitation about touching your black friend's hair, she asked you to. You didn't ask, she did. She told you she didn't mind, so that's a relationship thing the two of you have. The only mistake you could make is assume that because she is ok with it, I, for example would be ok with it simply because I'm also black.

    You've probably read comments from BW here who say they get tired of repeating themselves and they just want to be treated as a human. These are the situations they're talking about. We don't have to be handled with kid gloves -- even with the best intended kid gloves.

    She invited you to a party, you were her guest, who gives a sh*t what the other black people think? Your hesitance comes from a good place, but that's putting a lot of unnecessary burden on yourself and unless you intended to ask ridiculous question and pretend to be a know-it-all on Black History (which I call a white people tendency to overcompensate -- "look, I know stuff, too") you more than likely would've been fine.

    As a point of admission, I don't know that I'd invite any of my white friends (maybe 1 or 2) to a BHM party for fear they'd have all the same thoughts run through their head. I'd rather not make them uncomfortable, even though I'd love for them to just come and hang out. Over the years, I've been frustrated by feeling like I willingly walk right into all-white affairs where I feel like I stick out like a sore-thumb, but none of my white friends (well, again, save one or two) seem willing to do the same. My admission is that I've not given them all a chance and my suggestion is that we both rethink our knee-jerk assumptions on what would happen.

    in the scenario sciencegirl envisions, what if a big ol' gangly white dood took it upon himself to recite some classic of black lit; langston hughes' 'mother to son' for instance...which is in deep 'vernacular'?

    You don't see how that's ridiculous? Is that something you would do? I mean, honestly, if you were at a birthday party for a friend, and some guy you've never seen before stood up and started reciting a Langston Hughes poem with no prompting, wouldn't you give them a mean side-eye off GP? I mean it has no place at a birthday party or a BHM party; it's not racial.

    The only reason for anyone to recite some classic Langston Hughes is because they're a douchebag. Period. You know it and I know it and people would judge them because they're being douchebags, not racist.

    Meanwhile, I'm looking for a real example of something that you, randy, could see yourself doing at a Black History month party that you might be attacked for. It's just a party. Relax. If you weren't wanted there (by somebody), you wouldn't be invited.

  70. I hear a lot of talk about white fear keeping WP from doing things, but blaming it on black anger. Funny.

  71. @ A. Smith --

    Thanks for your reply. I know you're not insinuating that I'm just blindly following rules and treating all black people with uniform kid gloves, though frankly because of the constraints you point out with regard to this being an online forum where you can't really get to know people, I can see how you would get a general sense based on my post that I was, kind of, doing that.

    The reason I care about what the other black people think is that they're my coworkers. And aside from any pragmatic risks that you take when you potentially offend your coworkers (risks that may make my situation somewhat unique and therefore not as pertinent to this thread as I originally felt), I also just on an emotional level don't like the thought of people perceiving me as a racist oppressor invading their space.

    ...and my suggestion is that we both rethink our knee-jerk assumptions on what would happen.

    I think this is very poignantly stated and I agree.

  72. @yerbird,
    Had to wait until lunch to comment. Thanks for the reply. My question was just one of pure curiosity— and I had to chuckle at your answer, because I've been in that position myself, and certainly not just with race-related things. [In fact, your thinking reminds me of mine— I spend a lot of mental time considering (and sometimes worrying about) other people's feelings and all possible interpretations. I think some people are just more... socially sensitive? than others that way.]

    I know you're not asking for advice, but to add to A.Smith: just based on your comments here in this thread, I don't think you have as much to worry about as you might think! I won't lie, you're probably right that you'd run into some PoC who were a bit surprised and provisionally standoffish, but it doesn't take long to figure out when someone's sincere. Risk it next time!

    Just so you know, black people aren't looking for reasons to be pissed off 24/7. We prefer feeling happy to feeling angry. I'm thinking that if anything, a BHM party or MLK party or whatever that you're invited to is probably the most minor-WP-gaffe-tolerant environment you're going to find. Unless you do/say something insanely egregious, you'd probably just get at most, a deep sigh, rolled eyes and avoidance for the rest of the night. Because it's a PARTY. Who wants to get upset? It's like... spilling wine on my carpet is never cool. But if you spill wine on my carpet during my New Year's party, when I'm filled with woohoo and goodwill, I'll probably let it go and wait until the 2nd to be annoyed (if at all).

  73. Getting back to Black History Month:
    I wanted to add to the part of the thread started by ktb.
    I'm constantly trying to fill in black history, so it's hard to choose. My favorites of the moment are Bessie Coleman, pioneer aviator (1892-1926). She was the first licensed black pilot in the world, and damn, it wasn't easy.
    ...and Alice Dunbar-Nelson, poet/journalist/novelist (1875-1935) [and heck, her first husband Paul Laurence Dunbar, poet (1872-1906) too]. I'm all about black writers right now. I intend to read all of their work this month; I cannot wait! And thanks to Project Gutenberg, it's all available online for free!!

    On slightly different note:
    Today's Google doodle is a Norman Rockwell painting in honor of the artist's birthday. Certainly, his heartwarming scenes of relentlessly lily-white America for the Saturday Evening Post are his most well-known. I don't know much about the man personally or his other work. Anyway, I had BHM on my mind, so I went a'searchin'. Three of these were entirely new to me. (Possibly worth noting: he stopped working for the SEP in 1963.) Behold:
    "Golden Rule" (aka "Do Unto Others") (1961)
    "Murder in Mississippi (Southern Justice)" (1963)
    "The Problem We All Live With" (1964)
    "New Kids in the Neighborhood" (1967)
    SWPD: surprise you every once in a while.

  74. wow...that 'murder in ms.' painting is chilling. the last moments of schwerner, chaney and goodman. i don't think there's another rockwell picture like it. he generally avoided violence and disturbing imagery. and this one is painted so loosely and monochromatically.

    i'd never seen it before either, so thanks karinova.

    my personal plug for BHM would have to be 'the souls of black folk' by w.e.b. dubois. an amazing book on multiple levels; linguistically, stylistically, informationally, autobiographically. and it doesnt seem dated, even tho' it was written over a century ago.

  75. The girl removed the video guessed she couldn't handle people calling her out on her ignorance
    cest la vie

  76. On the yerbird thread, I would have similar feelings so I identify with them very much. Welcome, not welcome, is it an intrusion? I might make excuses to myself about why I couldn't go - schedule, etc. But at the same time, I am reminded that many PoC ask themselves exactly those same questions when invited to a "White" gathering. Isn't it another level of White privilege to avoid putting ourselves in these potentially-uncomfortable and potentially-difficult situations where others might resent our presence? Or think we said something wrong or offensive?

    I feel like I ought to add something to the main thread but I don't have a reasonable contribution, so I guess I'll just give up and let it go at this.

  77. I was horrified to see a group, 'White History Month?', pop up on some of my friend's teenagers facebooks. Digging deeper into it, the subtle and not-so-subtle racism (e.g the creator's fb profile shows him in blackface) had me raging the past few days. The bright side is that there are quite a few people trying to explain things just as you have to so many before.

  78. I just found this blog, (someone referenced it on FML) and I think it's interesting.

    I really don't agree with this post though, or the whole blog itself.

    Why can black people have a month, if no one else can? My school is currently celebrating Black History Month. They put up posters of black people - mostly rappers, singers and athletes, a couple inventors too... and MLK and Malcom X, of course. Why don't we have a white history month? or an asian history month? or hispanic history month? It's idiotic IMO.

    I don't get why black people are allowed to celebrate their ethnicity but white people can't. In my city, they're opening up a "black focus" school, b/c the drop out rate is so high for blacks. If they had a school and labeled it a "white focus school" people would be up in arms. It's NOT fair. And their is racism against whites.

  79. Italianaaaaaaaa, did you even read this post? Your questions are pretty much answered in the post. Please read more carefully if you ever decide to comment here again. Also, please read this. Carefully.

  80. The creator of this post makes no sense;You failed at informing us why there is no white history month. Instead you leave us with your anger of being asked! If you feel this strongly about hating this question maybe you should do some research and educate those who ask or point them in a direction to understand why Black History month was established! Obviously by the bold lettering you have hatred towards white people in some way. INSTEAD OF COMPLAINING GO OUT AND CHANGE THE WAY YOU FEEL!!!!

  81. fuzzy bunny,

    I don't hate white people; I hate what an ongoing, de facto system of white supremacy does to me and other white people, and especially what it does to non-white people. That larger ideology and its systemic and individual manifestations are the targets here, not white people themselves.

    Also, you didn't read the post carefully; it does explain the reasoning for non-white history months, e.g.,

    I see minority history/heritage months as a way of making up for what's still lacking at all other times in our mainstream cultural, educational, and other societal settings -- that is, a fully integrated and proportionally accurate representation of racial and ethnic minorities. We may be making progress in those terms (and even that's debatable), but we're just not there yet. . . .

    non-white gatherings as history months, black-owned businesses, minority organizations and clubs, and even beauty contests, have often been a response to white supremacy -- a way of reasserting, and even repairing, something about a racial group that white supremacist ideology and practice has long denigrated, and damaged.

  82. little fuzzy bunny said, "INSTEAD OF COMPLAINING GO OUT AND CHANGE THE WAY YOU FEEL!!!!"

    So people shouldn't call attention to a situation for the change of a system which makes white history the only history relevant for everyone to learn every day, people should change how unhappy they feel about it?

  83. I think of it as general ignorance about what racism is, what black means in relation to white, and of course absolutely no knowledge of history. I have been faced with this, I’ve been asked by whites why is there BET as an example? Well, being black is not just generic whiteness - black typically is a synonym for American Blacks who have their own culture just like blacks in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa have their own respective cultures. Being African American is more of an ethnicity than a race especially in America. We have our own language, way of dressing, traditional foods, and so on.

    It’s really akin to being Italian or Irish or Jewish. Which as I understand whites of these heritages celebrate. If white folks want to have the Italian channel (I think there actually is an Italian channel) or the Irish channel or the Romanian channel, that’s cool. Celebrate your heritage. That’s what blacks are doing! It’s no different than that.

    White is not an ethnicity. It’s an umbrella term for Caucasians of every ethnicity imaginable but not a culture in and of itself. Black is both. I like to think that’s where the confusion comes in.

    Also, I’ve NEVER heard any whites complaining about the Asian channels or Univision. Whites who ask such questions need to understand that EVERYTHING in the media really largely caters to them and their point of view. That culturally blacks really are different than they. We do have a culture, even though much of it has been adopted as simply American, like our music and slang.

    Unfortunately, racism has deprived us of getting the credit we deserve on the canvas of America’s history. That’s one reason why we celebrate Black History month.

    However, If there was White history month, that would be seen as racist because the racists whites in Aryan nations and Nazi party have co-opted terms like White Pride, etc. So of course that would be seen racist. It’s really that simple.

    On the other hand who would say that Russian history month or Irish history month would be racist? I think it would be awesome - because I know nothing about those great heritages. Nobody is stopping this or is against this or would think it racist.

  84. The thing about white history taught in America is that white kids like me are taught to hate ourselves. White history is usually seen as a negative thing (for obvious reasons) so any participation we take in assembling ourselves really isn't all that engrossing. It's depressing. If us white people could have a month, to appreciate our positives, then we would be satisfied, I believe. My email is Please contact me if you have more information. I love to hear all sides.

  85. I just want to say I don't agree with the majority of you. I respect your opinions, but where I'm from... We always learn about white people AND BLACK PEOPLE. So I think that white people should have the right to have a month to celebrate for ourselves. It isn't our fault our ancestors had black people for slaves. We shouldnt be punished for it. I think either they should say "Screw it" to the black history month or just have a month for every kinda race, not just white. It isn't fair... Believe it or not, white people have done amazing things for America! You can sit there and tell me they dont teach about black history in school, but in my school, most of the history we learned had a great deal of black history in it.

  86. Brooke, I'm almost curious enough to visit this parallel universe you came from.

    Feeling Punished, you should feel rightly so for not paying attention. No one is downing on you people *tongue firmly in cheek* as 'der gr8te ebil'. It's not just about the slavery. It's not a then thing. And your school is not the entire country. The only thing you could be punished for is your lack of awareness and attention as to the conversation being spoken.

  87. Where are these schools teaching so much black history and negative things about whites?

    Most of the months of the year are filled with history for other cultures.

    In fact Women's history month is coming up next.

    There is APA history month,
    American Indian, Hispanic Heritage and more...are schools really this bad these days?

  88. So many good comments have already been posted so I'll try to be brief (And sorry for the necromancy).

    It looks like everyone seems to be saying the same general thing, white collectivism, the idea of true experience as defined through victimization, the lack of satisfactory teaching of black history, etc. Like I said, really good points, but they all seem to be coming to the same conclusion, one that even the original poster seems to betray: the necessary supplication to, and demonization of an abstract "white establishment." Actually, now that I think of it, even the pro-White History Month people are saying this type of thing.

    The problem, according to both sides, seems to be the obvious Occam’s razor-answers, “If we have a black history month, why no white/Chinese /Chicano month?” – Or – “If we have x history month, why not just include that in the grand historical narrative?” The former, rather than celebrating race, seems to merely highlight the differences between each, while the latter faces the problem of desultory institutional enforcement, not to mention blatant disinterest.

    Perhaps this is misguided thinking, but with this idea of race history comes a sense of ownership, a feeling that no one else belongs but your race in your history. Thus, not only do you have the gated communities of black power, red power, grey power, ad nauseam. Not only do you have the villification of a white community that “has no [organized consciousness of its own] race.” But most importantly, you have a conception of race defined as “not being those a--holes that oppressed us.” This is not only problematic (white people aren’t the only ones that create/impose racial conditions), but it is through this that you get the modern obsession with racism and racial paranoia or the seemingly narcissistic self-hatred of white people throughout the country.

    The problem with racial history, as you all have implied, is this is not high-level history. It is a greatly simplified history that in its simplification loses almost all of its value. The value of black history is not through the mere fact that it is black, but through its ability to demonstrate society’s creation of race itself. Through studying race in this manner we are able to learn not only about black history, but our own histories as well. We learn about how race was crafted by our own specific ethnicities, our society, or even by the very race that we are learning about. We learn how race has been used to both rob and give power to individuals or how our ideas about race have changed through time. And in the process of all of this, we make race a topic for every group, every person, and every color.

    Just my 2cents.

  89. IW, you are aware, I hope, that the U.S. remains a de facto white supremacist society? That's not some "abstract 'white establishment,'" and identifying its existence and trying to work against it is not a process of "demonization." It's a recognition of which group is still empowered by racism, and which groups still suffer the brunt of that power.

    Actually, never mind answering that question, as I can tell that you're not aware of that.

    You seek avoidance of the "villification of the white community" and claim that "white people aren’t the only ones that create/impose racial conditions," but in doing so, you display your delusional denial of the realities of de facto white supremacy.

    For all your complex sentence stylings and condescending corrections, you don't actually display much awareness of the realities of racism. I suggest a refresher course, consisting of the readings listed in this post. Oh, and you should also look up a particularly useful term in your case: "concern troll."

  90. Did my comment warrant that response macon? I wasn’t trying to concern troll, I was just trying to further the conversation.

    I am certainly aware of who is in power in the United States. What I am trying to do here is to caution against a monolithic conception of racism performed by white people vs. people of color. I agree, “de facto white supremacist society” is an attractive way to think about racism, but its use obscures so much non-white aspects that it just seems too dangerous. The obvious one is other races, while another big one would be capitalism/the race to live, make money and win. And really, if de facto supremacism is the basis of white society, why not just rename your blog “racism that white people do?”

    Okay that was catty, sorry. But honestly I’m not entirely sure what part of my comment you would find fault with. How would utilizing race as a rubric to view all interactions within American history be a bad thing? How would that not solve the problem of White History Month? I’m not saying black history month itself is a bad thing, I’m just saying that there is a better way to use individual histories (white history i.e. this site included) to view and teach United States history in general.

    So then I have to ask again, what is it that was so bad? Is it our semantic distinctions of “racism?” When I use racism in regard to non-whites I mean the upkeep of racial images, not the in-power-only racism. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that white people are this god-like, blemish-free class/race of Adonis and Venus look-alikes. I’m just trying to say there’s more to what we’re arguing about than white vs. everyone else. Or in my case, white racists (and concern trolls) vs. PoC + not as racist white people.

    Besides, isn’t the de facto supremacism idea, by its very nature, an admission of white narcissism? I.E. only the white people in America have the power to oppress people the right way? Yes, white people are primarily in positions of power, but that does not mean that white people are therefore the de facto creators of culture / social constructions. That's just too conspiracy-ish for me to buy into.

    Again, I didn’t mean to sound condescending/combative in this reply or my last one, I'm just trying to help contribute to an interesting discussion.

  91. But honestly I’m not entirely sure what part of my comment you would find fault with.


    I'm just trying to help contribute to an interesting discussion.

    Because what's merely "interesting" to you is a matter of far greater importance to us.

    But this has been said ad nauseam here, which you would know if you bothered to read and listen before tromping in here demanding Macon (and, by extension, all the POCs who contribute here) to justify the purpose of this blog.

  92. @RVCBard
    Don’t you see that what you’re doing here is exactly what I was talking about in my first comment? By saying “what’s merely ‘interesting’ to you is a matter of far greater importance to us” you’re creating this false dichotomy of us vs. them. Of a gated community of people who experience “true” reality as defined by x type of social construction, railing against some sort of abstract (although this seems to be debatable), all-inclusive, all-powerful other. With all due respect, you’re inscribing an absurd amount of power onto racial/experiential boundaries, essentially promoting race as an immutable obstacle to any sort of inclusive group harmony. What does this accomplish other than foster more group-specific distrust? I understand that it is a source for identity, but I’m trying to argue that this source of identity, is essentially reactionary (see OP for this argument) and therefore, is at its heart a negative identity.

    And please understand that I am making a fine distinction here. You can celebrate the communal aspect of race and not be a “gated community,” as I mentioned above. But this is not a community that can be made through attacks of “you can’t experience it, so that means you aren’t one of us.” Once you start attributing veracity to specific racial experiences, then you are no longer calling for inclusion. In fact, once you start attributing things to racial experiences, you are in effect modifying conceptions of race to make it less inclusive.

    Furthermore, at no point did I ever ask macon (and all the PoCs somehow?) to justify the purpose of this blog. In fact, the whole point of my comment was to defend alternate historical narratives. In the hopes of when someone like Victoria asks her friends if they want to have a black history party, her friends can respond with enthusiasm and the knowledge of why that is so important to their non-racial histories. Race isn't about race, it's about power. But you all already know that, it's in the comments section.

  93. @IW:

    OK. You're a special snowflake.

    Can we get back to the real topic now?

  94. ehhhh... IW?

    I wouldn't throw a Black History Party. I'm pretty pissed that this country is satisfied with tossing black people a bone like that, and wouldn't celebrate it. But I'm guessing you've confused my post with someone else's.

    I've gotta say, though, you're making a lot of REALLY white comments. I encourage you to read around the site and get into the comments... but don't make any more yourself. You sound like all of the other white people who come here looking to talk people of color out of believing that their own experiences in life are actually their realities.

    There are hundreds of stories, if you read the stories in the comments as well, of people of color expressing the realities of their lives here. Why are their testimonies not enough for you to realize that what you experience every day, operating in a system that favors your white skin, is fundamentally different than what they experience? Fundamentally.

  95. Whoa hold on, at what point did I say I was white? And assuming I am white, at what point does that give you to the power to derail my original point into “just trolling,” or standardized WP tropes? Isn’t this applying similar racial stereotypes to the race of whiteness (hint: not a race) that were originally used by the white establishment in power to subjugate PoCs? Does the mere fact that subjugation occurred therefore legitimate any further uses of race by the subjugated peoples? Furthermore, if race is/was a white establishment, why appeal to such a blatantly white construction? Isn’t that just giving in to oppression?

    Furthermore furthermore, do any of the responses to my comment even remotely address my original suggestion to the “white history” problem? Who’s the one derailing who?

    Finally, I have not, at any time, denied legitimacy to the experiences or other people, especially those different from myself and my apparently white skin. What I am doing is arguing against the concept of race, not against the concept of racial history. The idea of race itself is flawed, and only by exploring how it is constructed can we hope to extract ourselves from the fracturing of society into its constitute parts, groups, races, genders, and religions. Racial histories assume that each ethnicity has its own separate history that doesn’t interact with other histories – which further encourages looking at race from an individualist perspective and therefore a low level of historical analysis. Unless you want to castigate an entire community of racial historians (Nell Painter included) this is a pretty common assumption. (For more on this see the introduction of Women’s America: Refocusing the Past)

    And I understand that there are a variety of apparently WP tropes replete throughout my comment, but rather than recognizing them as tropes and therefore relegating my comment to troll status a la ad hominem, please, at least attempt to address them.

    (And sorry Victoria, it was a different user, didn’t mean to do that)

  96. "What I am doing is arguing against the concept of race, not against the concept of racial history."

    I think the idea of race not being 'real' is a given, but the thing is people see race, and if affects the lives of POC constantly... so I'm curious as to how on a blog that delves deeply into racism you think "Wait everyone! Race isn't real! You can all stop being annoyed/angry/whatever" is genuinely adding to the conversation is a positive way.

  97. first of all, thank you for this blog. as a half white, half south african-indian muslim, i've been pondering race and what it means for most of my life, and it's wonderful to see so many people talking about it here. the generally civilized tone is especially heartening.

    being of mixed race, I can tell you that when minorities get together, they're usually trying to maintain something, (a culture, religion, language). when the majority gets together it's often about excluding the minority.

    additionally, white is not in the same category as indian, african american, korean, etc, (especially in america, where white also means majority). because of this, there are many things which it's not ok for white people to do as white people, but which they could do as whatever ethnicity they may belong to. the problem lies in the broadness of the term white. nobody would mind a proudly -fill in white ethnicity here- company. a german basketball team would be fine. an all irish company selling shamrocks probably wouldn't bother too many people. nobody ever complains about the italian american festivals or the hungarian picnics.

    on a seperate note, am i the only one who can't stand the word ethnic as meaning non-white? since when do white people have no ethnicity?

    i hope i've added to the discussion, i'm more of a talker than a writer.

  98. I live in Virginia, who just approved April as "Confederate History Month". I've read the articles on various local news sites, and a majority of the posters love this because we already have Black History Month.

    It's the same thing with BET (although I have my issues with that channel), and why there's no "White Entertainment Television". Hell, you have how many cable channels out there, and 90% of the time, the shows never feature people of color. The NAACP fought that very issue about 10 years ago.

    Can't have it both ways.

  99. I am in my fifties and wish that people other than middle-aged white men would have been mentioned and given credit for their accomplishments in my school text schools as I was growing up. (I'm not against the middle-aged white men in the history books, but they aren't the only ones who have accomplishments. That stands to reason). I did not know that a black gentleman created the traffic light system until about ten years ago. I like John Wayne movies and also found out that there were a lot of black cowboys who tamed the West. I did not find very much to read about in regard to women's contributions to society neither in my school textbooks. I am actually very glad that we have Black History Month. Knowledge is Power. I happen to be white and I like reading about people's accomplishments and contributions no matter their race. Every child, no matter what background, should feel that they, too, can make a positive difference. History needs to include all peoples, not just a chosen few!

  100. ["White Guy," if you want to get taken seriously here, you clearly need to read this post before submitting more comments. ~macon]

  101. [Anonymous, I'm not black. I'm white. You are right, though, that I'm not going to publish your comment. ~macon d]

  102. Hm. I wonder what Black History Month is going to look like in Texas elementary schools now?

  103. Ok. I am a white dude that grew up in the deep hood. I come from a rather socially diverse, if not segregated city north of the mason-dixon line, and well, I have one thing to say.

    Whenever I take pride in my heritage, in my roots, I am near immediately looked at by any person nearby as if I have grown a second head, unless they themselves are educated.

    I am a true history buff, and I can tell most ethnic people more about their history than they can.

    Truth be told, you shouldn't take just one month to study your roots, but should do it all year round.

    Most people don't even realize that The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo were written by a Black Man.

    Anyway, my two cents are this. Instead of defending Black History Month, How about starting a campaign to get rid of the Government established Black history month, and try to educate people about their roots year round.

    And P.S.: Regardless of whether or not I invited my mixed group of friends to my 'white history month party', I could guarantee that I would be boycotted by quite a few people that don't take it upon themselves to educate themselves about their roots.

  104. Vanilla,

    Good idea on educating all people about their roots all year round, but white people already are educated about their "roots" all year round.

    Are you saying that you're proud to be white? And that's why you'd have a "white history month party"?

    If so, what about being white are you proud of?

    Wait -- if so, don't answer that. If you're proud of being white, just go away, plz.

  105. @Vanilla

    Whenever I take pride in my heritage, in my roots, I am near immediately looked at by any person nearby as if I have grown a second head, unless they themselves are educated.

    Please tell me you mean by heritage/roots you mean your Dutch, or Welsh, or German-American ancestry, or something.

    If that is the heritage you wish to celebrate, I con't understand why anybody would be freaked out by that.

    If you mean white heritage as in you wanna celebrate being a white guy in america and all the cultural privileges that implies...? Umm you're on the wrong damn blog.

    Perhaps you haven't heard. White Heritage = Legacy Of White Supremacy . White is NOT just another word for Caucasian. White means those who hold the greatest amount of power in the COLOR-CODED RACIAL CASTE SYSTEM guessed it... WHITE SUPREMACY.

    Let me say this a few more times. You can't be White without WHITE SUPREMACY. WHITE SUPREMACY isn't just an extremist militia movement for rednecks who like burning crosses. WHITE SUPREMACY is the FOUNDING PRINCIPLE of the Race Concept.

    You dig? White. Black. Red. Yellow. Race exists solely because the people calling themselves The White Race created it. For no other reason than to dominate all the other "races" and try to take their shit from them.

    Is that what you're proud of, Vanilla? Cuz that's what your White Heritage is all about, dude.

    I suggest you do ALOT more reading here before you comment. I mean, damn.

  106. @Jane Laplain,




  107. @Vanilla
    You might be a history buff but your knowledge of Dumas is full of FAIL

    Alexandre Dumas:
    paternal line - French Aristocratic grandfather + French African Grandmother
    Father - mixed race
    Mother: French.

    I guess you like that one drop rule much, right?

    Most people don't even realize that The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo were written by a Black Man.

  108. Ok. Now. My Heritage, is that my maternal grandmother's line is a far cried descendant from Mary Queen of Scots. Also a lesser known, later noble known as Sir Jon the Horse Thief.
    My maternal grandfather's line? Pioneers.
    My paternal grandmother's line? Pioneers and sharecroppers. Somewhere in there i have a grandfather that helped lay the trans cont railroad.
    My paternal Grandfather? Cast off cousins and descendants of a renowned millers.

    All of this is *my* heritage. I am proud of where I come from. I am proud of my roots. Anyone who says I shouldn't be, is nothing more than a hypocrite.

    I am more than the color of my skin. I have running in my veins, the blood of kings, the blood of slaves. All the way back to Adam and Eve. Just like everyone else here.

    Your lashing out at me, telling me i should be ashamed of who I am and where I come from, is a very sad thing. Rather than me read this site, mayhaps you all should look at yourselves.

    Alexander Dumas was a man of color. While he wasn't treated as badly as a post emancipation slave, he wasn't given all of the privileges of a white person, until later in life.

    @Jane: Your comment was by far superior to AE's. More thought out. So let me tell you.

    I am what is known as a European mutt. I have a bit of all fair skinned persons within my line. Now, racially speaking? I am too mixed up to claim one ethnic identity. But, all of them are fair skinned races. All of them are 'white'.

  109. Oh Vanilla, you're so . . . Vanilla!


    I am what is known as a European mutt. I have a bit of all fair skinned persons within my line. Now, racially speaking? I am too mixed up to claim one ethnic identity. But, all of them are fair skinned races. All of them are 'white'.

    No, all of them are NOT "white." White is what your American ancestors became when they gave up their ethnic identities!

    So you're not answering my question. You begin by claiming, or at least implying, that you're a proud white person, and then when asked what it is about your specifically "white" heritage that you embrace, you instead hold up that which existed before your ancestors embraced whiteness. As I said, that's very "vanilla" of you. To be white is NOT to be ethnic, and yet, when whites talk about a proud past, they talk about (erased) ethnicities (or as you put it, their "heritage" and "roots").

    I'm not surprised you're having trouble explaining what it is, specifically, about being 'white' that you're proud of. As the historian David Roediger puts it, "Whiteness describes, from Little Big Horn to Simi Valley, not a culture but precisely the absence of culture. It is the empty and therefore terrifying attempt to build an identity based on what one isn't and on whom one can hold back."

    You say you're a history buff, but you seem entirely unaware of the many, many recent histories written on "whiteness" (Ignatiev, Painter, Roediger, Frye Jacobson, Haney Lopez, etc.).

  110. @vanilla..

    This thread is not about your heritage. But its cool to see you centring it all on YOU.

    But then, just like you did with Dumas history, you might just be making yours up too. I'd correct you on it. But i can't be bothered to investigate it and tell you your actual history, like you shock horror! tell those people who don't know that Dumas is a ....... should we just call him Haitian, since his French grandfather lived in Haiti?.

    ecuse me, I'm munching on some old school licorice.. hmmm yum

  111. AE:

    I have one question to ask you:

    Which African Tribe do you claim as yours during Black History Month?

    Now, Stop and think.

    You just bagged on me for not picking a single tribe of fair skinned people and claiming them as my own.

    Maybe, you should think before you talk, hm?

  112. vb, I think YOU should stop and think. I already have, so I know what I'm talking about.

    Which African Tribe do you claim as yours during Black History Month?

    None. Since I'm a white American, I identify racially first and foremost as white. Yes, I have specific European roots, and like everyone else, my ancestry does indeed go all the way back to Africa, but no one looks at me and sees anything but "white," and that means so, so much for who I am, how I think and feel, and how I act. I have what this blog has taught me to see as "common white tendencies." And so, surely, do you. Think about it, hm?

  113. Is black history month a different month in America? Because in England it is in October??

  114. There IS White history month!!!
    Seems like everyone is asking...what is White History Month? Well the answer is July! Seems to make sense...our independence day, the birth of this great nation...

    Here is the official website for White History Month:

    Note, there is an event this July in Washington - should be good!

    It's about time a white history month is out there...a great opportunity to celebrate the country, its foundation, noted icons, contributors, and fascinating events of our history!

    Regardless of your race, gender, or can find pride in the events and people celebrated during July...White History Month!


  116. I have an even more probing question. Why do I always see White people telling the history of the cultures of non-White peoples? I watch the history channel, for example, and all I see are so-called White scholars in Egypt digging up stuff and telling to the world of an ancient culture that is not theirs. I see them deciphering an ancient writing (hieroglyphs)that no one in their lineage wrote. Why are not the Egyptians doing the telling? I see Whites digging up stuff and telling of stories that is not theirs to tell. This is arrogant. They are in everyone backyard except their own.

    I believe that many so-called White scholars who spent time digging up stuff in Egypt in Egypt discovered who really built the Pyramids, the Sphinx and discovered to had an ancient form of writing. I am certain of it.

    They spend time in Egypt not to dig up stuff to reveal, but to conceal the truth about what they find.

    As anyone ever wondered why the Egyptian government allowed the building of the Aswan Dam? This dam backed up the Nile river creating a man-made lake called Lake Nasser. Lake Nasser covers an area of over 2000 square miles.

    Nasser covers over the evidence of a highly organized and civilized people who built the Pyramids, the Sphinx and who created the ancient writings found over there.

    If the Egyptians of today (Arabs) ancestors really occupied that land long ago and built the great structures and created the ancient writings, why in the world would they disrespect their ancestry and allow over 2000 square miles of ancient history to be covered over by this Lake?

    Because it was not their ancestry. It was the descendants of Cush (Kush) who occupied that land long before the Arabs and Europeans came into it and usurped it. It was a dark-skinned people who lived in all of that land.

    This is what is being covered over.

    They know this. We see mainly the European in Egypt spinning incredible lying stories about who built the Pyramids, Sphinx and created the hieroglyphs. It was not the ancestors of the "Arab Egyptians."

    Look at the Sphinx itself! One can see the disrespect and outright hatred of Blacks directed at it. French and British Soldiers in past times used it as target practice and notice that it was the nose and lips that they largely targeted: the most pronounced features of Africans.

    Rather than let the truth be known, and attribute such great accomplishments to a dark-skinned people, The European and his descendants and Arabs would rather cover it up and cover it over.

    Moses and the Pharaohs looked nothing like what is seen in the movie "The Ten Commandments.'

  117. i believe that the 100% black owned hair care products are great for ethnic hair. i am white and couldnt tell you the first thing about taking care of ethnic hair what type of products to use or anything so good for that company. for that girl getting mad saying its racist she is retarded its the same concept of walking into a chinese restaurant and saying why dont white people work here or cook the food ummm because no would can know their food as good as they do. just like no one can know ethnic hair as well as a person of ethnic background. everyone disregard the ignorant white people that ask why is there no white history month they have no clue what they are talking about, in most school you are only tought about american history which is consisting of mainly things about white people. i went to martin luthurn king elementry and we had 2 history classes american history and african american history i dont remember many things from either class im not that big into history but i think that it should be in every school not just as an elective but as a mandatory class maybe the white people that say these stupid things about no white history month would quit saying that because they were taught at an early age about both not by their parents because most parents grew up at a time where blacks and whites werent at the same school yet. my mother had not even seen a black person til she was 13, because there were none who when to her school or who lived in her neighbor hood luckly my mom turned out the way she did and i wen to the school i did and i learned these things. (oh and btw this is for the people that come to the club i work at im not racist for telling you that you are to drunk to come in. I say it to everyone who has had to much to drink)

  118. I'm very late to the party. I'm also white. So feel free to completely ignore my contribution.

    If a white person makes an "innocent" blunder and a PoC reacts negatively, I consider that justified retribution. PoC have been receiving the brunt of our ignorance and downright hatred for generations, so if we have to end up on the business end of an angry rant or two, que sera. We cannot walk around every day inhabiting our privilege and on the rare occasion that something does not go our way, or, gasp, someone misunderstands our intent, cry foul. How many times have PoC experienced that very thing *that same day*, never mind in their lives?

    Furthermore, as a white person, I don't believe there is such a thing as "innocent" blundering on the topic. There's no excuse for ignorance anymore; the only sort left is of the willful variety. If you belligerently refuse to extend yourself willingly to learn about the reality of your neighbors of color, then you really deserve to learn the lesson the hard way. I count a rebuff or two as the basic admission price for the treasure that is my more informed (if not totally aware) perspective.

  119. White people who complain about Black History Month and what they think of as "special attention" given to minority groups should detest white privilege more than anyone. It's the overarching ideology of whiteness that limits your ability to engage in cultural discourse.... don't blame the racial groups trying to overcome the very same power structure that limits YOU. If we didn't have a white power structure, then there would be no need to complain, right? Generations from now, perhaps there will be white hair care products on the shelf, along with hair care products for every other body type - and maybe by then people won't even think of race when browsing the hair care aisle of their local drugstore. But right now, that kind of society is pretty far off, regardless of our current POTUS, who is still unfortunately regarded as one of the "exceptional individuals" allowed into the power structure of white privilege. So direct your hate where it should go. We don't have white hair care products because we don't yet live in a truly multicultural society. That's my two cents as a white person.


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