Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    No, you can’t have your ‘white history month’

    The other 11 months already are

    by Steven Ritschell

    February has returned and the barrage of “Why can’t we have a white history month?” questions are here with it. Black folks probably respond appropriately with a heavy eye roll when asked this ridiculous question, but what exactly are you supposed to say to that?

    It’s not a person of color’s job to educate adults on the world’s history of institutional racism and white supremacy. There are a multitude of history classes taught by knowledgeable, eclectic instructors here on campus and a wonderful tool called Google that white people can utilize to educate themselves.

    However, if you find yourself feeling charitable and must educate someone on the spot, here are a few key concepts you can feel free to share with Becky or Chad.

    One important point is that white history is celebrated through the other 11 months of the year. Thanks to white supremacy, students are taught a watered down version of our nation’s history which focuses on white accomplishments.

    Many atrocities carried out on indigenous and Black people are overlooked, white men continue to be praised, and great contributors to modern society are ignored.

    Examples of overlooked innovators include Charles Drew, a medical researcher who played an important part in developing the modern blood bank, or Marie Van Brittan Brown, known for inventing the first home security system. If schools were inclusive of all culture’s history instead of just white European history, we wouldn’t need a month to celebrate these extraordinary folks.

    If Becky and Chad are still unconvinced that a white history month is unnecessary, ask them, “What is white culture?” What exactly do white Americans want to celebrate that isn’t already covered in every facet of America’s dominant culture?

    When I think of white culture, I think of the lack thereof. But to truly understand what that means we need to unpack the word “white.” The term was coined in the 17th century in an attempt to create a divide between Europeans and the newly discovered people in Africa and The Americas.
    Terms like “Social Darwinism,” a perversion of Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection, were used by scientists to justify the racist idea that Europeans were better equipped to dominate the world.

    Since Americans abandoned their heritage for whiteness, there wasn’t any culture to celebrate.

    The word “white” also helped elite, wealthy Europeans trick poor, white Europeans into believing they were in the same class, thus avoiding class conflicts.

    This social construct was also used to group white folks together against a common enemy: anyone who didn’t fit into the mold of whiteness. In a way, capitalism created whiteness in America and the western world.

    Since Americans abandoned their heritage for whiteness, there wasn’t any culture to celebrate. This is where the appropriation of Black culture by pop culture comes into play.

    Most pop culture in America is derived from Black culture. Without Black folks, modern rock music wouldn’t exist. Black dances like the Jitterbug from the 1930s to the Nae Nae of the early 2010’s dominated the dance floors of every dance hall in America.

    Even popular words and phrases like “cool” and more recently “bae” were coined by Black folks that aren’t given proper credit for their contributions to pop culture. I’m still waiting for Kayla Newman (AKA Peaches Monroe) to collect her royalty checks for giving us all the gift of the phrase “on fleek.” 
    While white folks definitely contributed to some pop culture in America, like frosted tips and Nickelback, we can all agree which culture is the better influencer on our society as a whole, even though these contributors often go without credit.

    It’s also important to note that cultural appreciation (not appropriation) is totally fine as long as credit is given where credit is due.

    European history is worth celebrating and folks should be able to celebrate their heritage. The Renaissance Era and The Enlightenment period were important moments in history that Europeans should be proud of.

    I’m supportive of a Swedish History Month, or any other European country’s history month, but ultimately, Black folks rarely receive the praise we deserve for our contributions to society.

    During this joyous month we deserve to be heard and celebrated, not silenced by Becky or Chad.

    Steven Ritschell is a Tower Staff Writer. Email him at steven.ritschell(at)

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
    Leave a Comment
    Donate to The Citizen
    Our Goal

    Comments (0)

    All Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *