Must Read: White History 101

By Andre Banks Feb 19, 2007

Though President’s Day would be a fitting moment for RaceWire to flip the script an go neocon for a day, don’t let this title fool you. Taking Black History Month as his starting point, longtime Guardian correspondent Gary Younge makes a great argument in The Nation for a comprehensive telling (actually, retelling) of "White History". Younge, in fact, firmly supports the Blackening of our shortest month, even while pointing to its intrinsic shortcomings:

Setting aside twenty-eight days for African-American history is insufficient, problematic and deserves our support for the same reason that affirmative action is insufficient, problematic and deserves our support. As one means to redress an entrenched imbalance, it gives us the chance to hear narratives that have been forgotten, hidden, distorted or mislaid.

But perhaps more importantly, he argues that all Americans, and particularly white Americans, should reject the mythology presented in history books and go deeper to understand the real story of white people in this country. A Black history lesson makes little sense without a real discussion of the collective responsibility white folks share in a system made successful through racism and imperialism.

When it comes to excelling at military conflict, everyone lays claim to their national identity; people will say, "We won World War II." By contrast, those who say "we" raped black slaves, massacred Indians or excluded Jews from higher education are hard to come by. You cannot, it appears, hold anyone responsible for what their ancestors did that was bad or the privileges they enjoy as a result. Whoever it was, it definitely wasn’t "us." This is one more version of white flight–a dash from the inconveniences bequeathed by inequality.

A critical point, well argued. Check it out.