If February is Black History Month, September is National Hispanic Heritage Month and November is Native American Heritage Month, which month is White History Month?
There is an unfortunate, common belief in this country that white history is American history. We see the accomplishments of whites as the accomplishments of our country, while minorities remain in obscurity.
The “separate but equal” doctrine that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought so hard to abolish still exists, veiled behind seemingly compassionate acts of respect. While many say racial segregation is dead, I believe the void between races is as alive today as it was in 1963.
Our society is built off the belief that separation between peoples is imminent and essential. There seems to be a necessity for towering social fences that polarize rich and poor; white and black; male and female.
By paying tribute to the lush, diverse cultural backgrounds that inhabit the ethnic rainforest that is the United States, in the form of reserved periods of reverence, Americans are only perpetuating the racial separation that we believe we are suppressing.
Merriam-Webster defines segregation as “the separation for special treatment or observation of individuals or items from a larger group.” Segregating by race is essentially enabling an ignorant filter to be placed over one’s intake and management of information.
Alan R. Templeton, professor of biology of Arts and Sciences at Washington University considers race as “…a real cultural, political and economic concept in society, but it is not a biological concept, and that unfortunately is what many people wrongfully consider to be the essence of race in humans — genetic differences.”
When somebody looks different, sounds different or acts different, humans tend to find it extremely difficult to not act upon these striking variances. The idea of race and the consequential social detachment that ensues is wholly human and does nothing but tear apart the innate relationships between human beings.
I am certain that many of you have been forced to listen to parents or elders drilling the statement “your actions speak louder than your words.”
The actions of our society exhibit a general compassion for the rights and equality of minorities. How we choose to display such sympathies proves our inclination toward this lasting separation. American heritage should reflect the clichéd “melting-pot” illusion.
In being “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” we bestow upon ourselves the obligation to actually resemble such a nation. Setting aside special periods of commemoration is in every way contrary to the idea of equality.
Our country is stating that we will remember and honor white contributions to society every day, while particularly reserving the months of February, September and November for those minorities who happened to chip in.
True equality will be seen when the distinctions between people are expunged. It will be seen when the connotations following a woman wearing a burqa are equivalent to the connotations following a man wearing a suit.
I leave you with a quote from Morgan Freeman: “Stop talking about [race]. I`m going to stop calling you a white man. And I`m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.”