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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: History can’t get any whiter

February is a good month: I’m getting my second pair of socks from my Sock of the Month Club, my hell weeks haven’t escalated to “please hospitalize me” level yet and it’s everyone’s favorite themed month – Black History Month. By everyone, I mean literate people with hearts and an Internet connection; strangely, there exists a population that doesn’t understand systemic oppression and racism and just wants to know why we can’t have a White History Month.

Let’s break this down for you all: The reason we don’t have White History Month is the same reason we don’t have affirmative action for white people, white history classes and a White Entertainment Television. Generally, popular culture regards white achievement as standard; the achievements of others are categorized otherwise because of a deeply seeded method of portraying these groups as inferior. Also, WET would be a terrible acronym and white people shouldn’t be allowed to host any sort of White Entertainment Television Network Awards because we already have that and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doesn’t need to meet that frequently. #OscarsSoWhite

If you aren’t aware, the 2015 nominees are the least diverse in the past 15 years, a trend that is not uncommon. Is the academy concerned? Probably not, because white privilege is so ingrained in popular culture that no one sees a problem with questioning manifestations of other, marginalized culture. 

In David Foster Wallace’s essay, “This is water,” two fish are swimming and a third fish asks them how the water is. Fish number one looks at fish number two and asks, “What’s water?” When you’re surrounded by something, its existence fades from your perspective and, according to Matice Moore, program director for African American Student Affairs, this is a definite problem.

Every year, AASA is approached with questions concerning Black History Month. “Why do we need this?” “Why isn’t it more inclusive?” And so on.  Moore said a general response to events put on by AASA in the spirit of Black History Month and throughout the year is that white students feel uncomfortable. 

“The presence of people of color in a predominately white space has a tendency to make white people feel uncomfortable, perpetuating the narrative that paints black folks as inherently threatening,” Moore said. Merely the concept of decentering whiteness by reducing the majority or encouraging diversity is threatening to the privileged majority. 

This perceived threat, compounded with the ineffective millennial ideal of being “colorblind,” marks a sharp disinterest in observing diversity wherever it is found in an effort to counteract racism and what some describe as “reverse racism.” This blatant erasure of racial responsibility leaves millennials with an unearned sense of accomplishment and exacerbates the equally unproductive attitude of the people who don’t recognize their privilege.

According to former Saturday Night Live star and now professional asshole Victoria Jackson, though, we’ve got to give white people their due. 

“Just for the record, white men invented rockets, space travel, airplanes, the automobile, the English language, the U.S.A., most medical advances, electricity, television, telescope, microscope, Ivy League Universities, the computer, the Internet, and on and on,” Jackson said. “I think white men should be praised and respected. White Christian conservative men especially, should be loved and adored. They were the backbone and originators of the greatest nation on earth. We need more of them now.”

To clarify, we don’t. Honestly, we need less.

We don’t have White History Month because we don’t need it, but we do need Black History Month.

The sad thing is that this opinion is wildly normative in this nation and there are too many people that need to hear the contrary message. Celebrate black history and move on from thinking that whites are being erased from the cultural landscape — we’re not. We’re just moving aside to make room for the groups that have been forced out of it.

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Nick Havey is a junior studying physiology and Spanish. Follow him on Twitter.

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