So I wrote about the importance of Black History Month for The Boar, which is my university paper. But as it is such an important topic, I thought I would post about it on here as well.
In the United Kingdom Black History Month has been celebrated in the month of October since 1987. Every year when Black History Month approaches, the same question resurfaces: Why isn’t there a White History Month?
This argument against Black History Month has become increasingly prevalent with people claiming that it is unfair that one sole race gets a whole month to celebrate their history.
The same people who make these criticisms against Black History Month tend to also be the ones who appropriate the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and argue in favour of #AllLivesMatter instead. However, I would argue that for similar reasons to the #AllLivesMatter supporters, those who are against Black History Month have entirely missed the point.
Having a Black History Month does not attempt to suggest that white history is less important. On the contrary, Black History Month merely showcases that black history is just as important as white history.
Black History Month largely has a dual-purpose: education and empowerment.
It recognises and rewards the contributions of people from an African or Caribbean descent throughout history. Its purpose is to counteract the whitewashing of our curriculum and ensure that the narrative of marginalised groups does not go unheard.
This is incredibly important for everyone, regardless of your skin colour. Black History Month attempts to provide a more holistic and accurate representation of the roles Black People played in the past and fill in the gaps in our knowledge thus, preventing ignorance.
This month long celebration does not attempt to take anything away from white people neither does it try to make white people any less special.
Every month is White History Month.
White History is the dominant voice; our text books are filled with White History and we are primarily given History from the perspectives of white people.
Yet, at school we mainly just learn about Slavery and Martin Luther King and this tends to be entirety of the “Black History” we are taught. Without Black History Month, many of the contributions black people have made over the years would go unacknowledged.
Likewise, failure to appreciate the importance of the involvement of Black people heightens racial tension and makes cohesion difficult. How can we say and truly believe that all races are equal when the History we are taught presents one race as inferior to the other?
Cumulatively this lack of Black History can also lead to the internalisation of racism where people of colour feel self-hatred and become subservient to their white counterparts which in turn further facilitates their marginalisation. Black History Month is supposed to empower.
So rather than asking why we do not have a White History Month perhaps a better question would be, why do we even need to have a Black History Month to begin with?
In an ideal world, we would not need a Black History Month. In an ideal world, we would not need an #BlackLivesMatter hashtag because every week I would not switch on the News and see that another black life had been lost to police brutality.
However, right now Black History Month and other similar expressions of Black Pride such as the BET awards, the “Black Girls Rock” and “Black Power” movement are a step in the right direction.
It’s just me, Dammy, learning more about Black History