It's a cruel fact that as America becomes a more tolerant and diverse place it becomes easier for the aggressively ignorant among us to make a name for themselves.
That's what appears to have happened when “Timeless Classic,” a rural classic car dealer on Highway 71 in Texas proclaimed June to be “White History Month.”
That's all I can think when I see a sign that says something so obvious.
There was a time when White Europeans were in the dark ages while other civilizations flourished, but when it comes to the United States the history we are taught is of European colonization and specifically from that perspective.
More below the jump… In an article that appeared in Ebony, Salon writer Mary Alice Daniel penned:
“The very notion of whiteness is relatively recent in our human history, linked to the rise of European colonialism and the Atlantic slave trade in the 17th century as a way to distinguish the master from the slave. From its inception, “white” was not simply a separate race, but the superior race. “White people,” in opposition to non-whites or “colored” people, have constituted a meaningful social category for only a few hundred years, and the conception of who is included in that category has changed repeatedly. If you went back to even just the beginning of the last century, you'd witness a completely different racial configuration of whites and non-whites. The original white Americans – those from England, certain areas of Western Europe, and the Nordic States – excluded other European immigrants from that category to deny them jobs, social standing, and legal privileges.”
She went on to say:
“Members of these groups sometimes sued the state in order to be legally recognized as White, so they could access a variety of rights available only to Whites – specifically American citizenship, which was then limited, by the U.S. Naturalization Law of 1790, to “free White persons” of “good character.”
The concept of (and need for the idea of) passing for white was relevant even through my own childhood. It was something I was often asked about and a point of real contention between black people of various shades, particularly in Southern Louisiana. When my parents were growing up dark skinned black people had to pass a “comb test” or a “brown paper bag test” to ensure they weren't too black to enter certain social events (the comb tested the texture of one's hair while the brown bag was a measure of skin tone).
The root cause of this social construct is the stigma that being black equates to inferiority — something that was for centuries enforced by law and later propagated by the status quo. That notion was so well ingrained that it was part of the reason the Supreme Court ruled in Brown Vs. Board that “separate but equal” was inherently unequal.
Upworthy shared a video of a white man explaining why there is no official “White History Month” and he breaks it down pretty well. But, for many minorities the answer can simply be summed up by saying “every month is white history month.”
“I know what I'm about to say is going to be a no brainer for a lot of you and it will be mind blowing for some others so let's talk about equality Thomas Jefferson wrote in the declaration of independence that all men are created equal when Jefferson said all man he was not talking about humankind and he wasn't even talking about all men as we know men today because dude was a slave owner the Declaration of Independence wasn't written for black people or Asians or native americans are even women the Declaration of Independence defined all men as basically white men have English descent who own a certain amount of property really all man were about 10 to 15 percent of the population at the time.”
And besides, there are several months that celebrate the contribution of European Americans. March is Greek and Irish American Heritage Month and October is Polish and Italian-American Heritage Month.
The fact is African-Americans had their families systematically separated and teaching them reading or writing was forbidden, so the idea of even knowing one's history is a privilege that is all but lost on some by simple virtue of their race — and to make light of that is a great way to show ignorance of your own.
Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.