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Viewpoints: White history month could be time for reflection, not celebration

By Connor Bevan

Black history is American history. Latino history is American history. And just like Native American history and Asian-American history, white history is American history.

The root of racial discrimination lies in the unequal treatment of people of different ethnicities. And while laughable claims of “reverse racism” usually stem from the radically far right, the sins of generations past have pressured us into a detrimental political correctness. In fact, pressure to be “PC” has grown so great that the label “bigot” is almost as slanderous as the offensive names we seek to avoid. Too often, Americans are afraid to talk.

In many ways, white people  still enjoy privileges. As a white man, I can go to any part of the country and expect the same benefits. Many of my peers of different races cannot say the same. Yes, issues like workplace discrimination and police brutality are vocalized, but usually only done so by the victims. How many of the Ferguson rioters were white? We hear and learn about the challenges of the suffering, from the suffering, but we rarely hear discussion from the beneficiaries.

Political correctness is directly tied into white guilt. For fear of sounding like our ancestors, or being accused of the dreaded “r” word, the politically correct are impeded from having any sort of meaningful discussion of race. The white American’s history of oppression, degradation and abuse has spurred an attitude of denial: a denial to face, accept and discuss the past.

This is where a “White History Month” comes in.  Primarily, most white people scoff at the notion that there be such a month. They view white history as a source of shame, yet all the while considering it something too foreign and unspeakable to be seriously examined. But this is exactly what this country needs: a significant assessment of this country’s attitudes about racial history.

Every year, Black History Month brings up questions like, “what does it mean to be African-American today?” and “to what degree is discrimination still prevalent?” Instituting a White History Month gives the white, guilty and “politically correct” a moment for self-reflection. The Month doesn’t necessarily have to honor white achievements; rather, it could serve for an honest evaluation of what has changed and needs to change. Acknowledging the evil past for what it truly is is the first step towards a post-racial society.

A White, or European History, Month puts white people on an equal footing with other races. It forces us to self-identify as white, and makes us examine where we are in the world. Other racial history months lead to conversations about progress, the heroes who have led that progress and the obstacles still blocking true equality. The same could be done for white people, but from the viewpoint of a position of continuous power. We must ask ourselves, “what does it mean to be white in America?” and “what do we gain at the expense of other races?”

Every October, we “celebrate” Columbus Day. With the open-mindedness of recent years, this day has not become about the first non-Nordic European to reach the New World, but rather his effect on the world he reached. Criticisms of the genocidal imperialist have made Americans doubt the myth that Columbus brought enlightenment, reason and prosperity to a savage world. This is a prime example of a politically incorrect day working towards the ultimate benefit of society as a whole. Yet, it does not encompass enough to make a substantial enough impact. Expand the discussion and biases and prejudices will be exposed, discussed and resolved.

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