Iíll begin by saying that Iím aware what a minefield the subject of race is- especially for a confirmed white boy like me. I am concerned by a double standard I see all around me. February is Black History Month; OK, I can accept that, but can you imagine the outcry if we were to create a WHITE History Month? Why is it acceptable to celebrate the heritage of one ethnic group, but celebrating another puts the celebrants at risk of being called racists? All I'm looking for is a single standard we all can live by.
A good example of this is yesterday's issue of our beloved Houston Chronicle. The Editorial section featured this article: "An overdue salute to our black fighting men". In the Lifestyle section: "Black memorabilia runs the gamut from racist to inspirational." The front page also featured an article about racism at Texas A&M University. These may all be worthwhile subjects. Imagine this, though: "An overdue salute to our WHITE fighting men"? The author would be burned at the stake.
I'm as opposed to racism as anyone out there. Judging a person by the color of their skin is repugnant. But why is it acceptable to deny Whites the opportunity to celebrate their heritage that is afforded to Blacks, Asians, Native Americans, etc.?
Racism is not exclusively White. It is part and parcel of the human condition. People feel more comfortable with people who look and act like themselves- that's human nature. It becomes a problem when skin color or ethnicity is used as a measuring stick. I know from experience that Blacks and Asians can be every bit as racist as Whites, but these groups can be openly racist in a way that no White person ever could. Why is this acceptable? Until we as a society learn to value people for WHO THEY ARE instead of the color of their skin, Americans will tolerate this repugnant double standard. Just what did the Civil Rights movement accomplish?
Crucify me if you wish for expressing opinions that are politically incorrect. I can live with that. Just don't tell me that what I've expressed is not an accurate portrayal of the realities of race relations in this country.
I'm not a celebrating kind of person, so I think all these holidays are pointless, except for the fact I'll be getting a day off from work.
But, the main difference is that "white" isn't a unifying term like "black" is. People may be proud to be white, normally we'd call them David Duke, but more often "white" people are proud of being Irish, or Italian or whatnot. And there are holidays celebrating that (St Pats, Columbus Day).
For some reason (good or bad) blacks are seen as one giant homogenus group. Maybe that is why they get a whole month (albeit the shortest month of the year). I'm okay with that, though, if it'd were up to me, I'd push the whole month be a national holiday - 28 straight days off. For that, I'd be the blackest panther in the bunch.
by mg at February 18, 2002 10:32 AM
As a complete aside, I was watching this special on Huey P. Newton on PBS this weekend. Newton, among other things, was a vocal member of the Black Panthers.
There were as many points in the movie that I agreed with Newton as I thought he was parnoid delusional.
No point really. Just felt like mentioning that. If you get a chance, check your local listings for when pbs will be replaying the show, it was wonderfully acted and directed (said through clenched teeth, considering how much I usually dislike spike lee joints).
by mg at February 18, 2002 4:29 PM
I have a friend for Sierra Leone. She is offended when people try to lump her in with African Americans, mostly because she isn't one. She's Sierra Leonian, and she has no real common interest with black Americans - why should we expect her to? When people say Black in this country, what they usually mean are the descendants of African slaves kept by white Americans, whether they know it or not. They don't mean Jamaicans, or Nigerians, or what have you, although the urge is to group those nationalities in with African Americans anyway thanks only to their skin color. So really, Black History Month is roughly analogous to Italian-American History Month, except of course that there are many many more African Americans in this country than just about any other single descent group, maybe except WASPS.
Now, why isn't there a White Anglo-Saxon History Month? Simple - because almost every single American history textbook already deals almost entirely with the doings of WASPS. Why isn't there White History Month? Because I don't know who White Americans are - I don't consider myself one, because white isn't my ethnic identity. Why SHOULDN'T there be an Asian History Month? Because there's no unified place called Asia, and the notion that Japanese Americans and Chinese Americans are the same or should be lumped together because they look the same to us is absurd.
by westernexposure at February 18, 2002 9:55 PM
I'm guessing there are plenty of Koreans, Malaysians, etc, who have been told "Happy New Year" last week by their ethnically clueless aquaintances. So I don't know that "the notion that Japanese Americans and Chinese Americans are the same or should be lumped together because they look the same to us is absurd."
To the general popultation of this country, it wouldn't be absurd. Not everyone is an Asian Studies Masters Candidate, so of course it is Of course it is absurd to you (and me); just like it'd be absurd to lump Dominicans or Algerians into Black History Month celebrations.
by mg at February 18, 2002 10:12 PM
We've stopped talking about culture. We only talk about color. There is no such thing as Asian culture, or European culture (at least not really) - its just as stupid to assume that someone from France is really the same as someone from Bulgaria. But we don't even really make that connection for whites in this country - why on earth should we make it for those other weird ethnicities? Blah.
by westernexposure at February 18, 2002 10:29 PM
Yeah, how about 'Overlooked History Month,' Where we can study how poorly the Irish and Italian immigrants were treated when they started coming into the US...
Or 'How Embarrassed Can We Be' History month, where we can discuss how the immigrants from the Far East built our railroads in slave-like conditions...
Or 'Gee, Did It Really Happen That Way, That's Not What They Told Me In School History Month' where we can learn how we took Native American Children from their homes, their mothers, their culture - stuck them in boarding schools hundreds of miles away from the reservations, and made them learn 'our' language and worship 'our' God. American History in it's finest hours... Oh, but we sure found the Navaho Language handy in WWII, didn't we? How hypocritical is that?
Intern Camps for those of Japanese ancestry, Medical Experiments on the Tuskeegee Airmen... if you're looking for horror, our past has it all...
And what am I?
White Anglo Saxon (formerly) Protestant.
by jenn at February 19, 2002 2:09 PM
DATE: 02/20/2002 06:21:08 AM
by Nathan at February 20, 2002 6:21 AM