It’s no secret that Donald Trump is completely clueless about black history and he’s only stirring up more confusion in the wake of his and Mike Pence’s ridiculous comments.
Since 1976, each president has declared February as a month celebrating black history. But today, Trump has taken credit for changing the name to “National African American History Month,” after deciding black was “outdated” and that “African American” was the more politically correct term, an administration official reportedly told TMZ.
The White House published an official proclamation on behalf of the current President, declaring February National African American History Month.
Some people aren’t happy about using the term African American instead of Black.
In 1986, Congress passed a law designating February “National Black (Afro-American) History Month.” However, in 1996, President Bill Clinton switched it up by calling it “National African American History Month. In fact, in 2015 President Obama used that wording, though in 2016 it appears to have gone back to Black History Month. Either way, Trump is certainly not the first person to make the change.
Despite the back and forth, black and African-American are not interchangeable terms, and for many, calling it African American History Month, no matter who does it, erases the experiences of American descendants of slaves.
In an article for the Manhattan Institute, John H. McWhorter argues that African-American is the term for immigrants and recent descendants of Africans in America, whereas black speaks more to the experiences of people who may have African heritage, but no connection to the continent.
“To term ourselves as part ‘African’ reinforces a sad implication: that our history is basically slave ships, plantations, lynching, fire hoses in Birmingham, and then South Central, and that we need to look back to Mother Africa to feel good about ourselves,” he writes.
You can view the official white house statement here.