I don’t mean White History in the same way we (attempt) to celebrate Black History during February, or Women’s History in March. Where these are intended to correct an imbalance in the way history is celebrated from an overwhelming white male perspective, White History Month need not rehash the tales of great white heroism. We need a different approach here. I mean for us to have a White History Month in the way James Baldwin once suggested a White History Week. During a speech before the National Press Club in 1986, he presented the idea and was later questioned about the seriousness of his remark. He responded:
“I was not joking about White History Week … I’m serious about that. White Americans really do not not know their history, and that’s one of the reasons they’re in trouble. And when I suggest White History Week, I’m not making a parody of Black History Week, but I’m suggesting that the truth about this country is buried in the myths that white people have about themselves. These myths have to be excavated and only can be excavated by white people.”
This isn’t the first time I’ve come across this notion of White History Month. My college professor, Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, author of “They Came Before Columbus”, was an advocate of history being told correctly, even “white” history. We all know that the history lessons we receive in school are bastardized versions of the truth, especially when it comes to black history. But so many white people seem to think that their history is truthful and it has definitely shaped some of their present day views. I’ll be the first to say that, just as black people aren’t monolithic, neither are white people. There are those white people who do recognize white privilege and pathology, but unfortunately they’re not the majority.
Smith goes on to say:
White America needs their myths interrogated, deconstructed and ultimately replaced with a new history altogether. Like Black History Month, a White History Month would be unable to cover all the territory needed to accomplish such a feat in so short a period of time. One would need to do so around the clock, around the calendar. But this is the United States, and we enjoy our pageantry. Let us observe White History Month and use it to rescue white America from itself.
Hypothetically speaking, do you think the U.S could benefit from a White History Month?