Leesville’s Black Student Union held its first official meeting of the year, on February 10. The club’s meeting was about Black History Month and Black Culture. (Photo Courtesy of Kaelyn McCann)
Black History Month is celebrated during the month of February and was first celebrated in 1926, as Negro History Week. In 1976, it became a federally recognized, month-long celebration.
Every year, around February, there is debate about whether or not Black History Month is discriminatory, as there is no “White History Month.”
Why is Black History Month Important?
Black History Month celebrates the Black diaspora in America and commemorates Black American History.
“I believe that Black History Month is a great reminder of the culture that African Americans stem from… and unify us to learn even more about our origins,” said Marquise Webb, junior.
“[Black History Month] allows Black people to have something, a peaceful something to unify us,” said Amira Leggett, junior.
Black History Month allows people of all races to commemorate the achievements of Black Americans throughout history. Black history can, and should, be celebrated year-round, but having a concentrated month places an emphasis on Black history.
“It’s easier to accept a month, for people who don’t want to accept it, rather than the whole year,” said Leggett.
Is there a “White Culture”?
A common argument for why there should be a white history month is that every other racial/ethnic group has a month, except white people.
Black History Month is in February, Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15- October 15, Asian Heritage Month is in May, and Native Heritage Month is in November.
These ethnicities have a month to honor how far they have come and celebrate their culture. Hispanic, Asian, and Native people all have an obvious culture. So do Black Americans, but is there a distinct White American Culture?
Black American Culture was created because of slavery, and African culture being stripped from enslaved people. As a result, enslaved people ended up forming their own distinct culture, separate from African cultures, over time.
The debate if there is a distinct White American culture.
“I’m hesitant to say there is no white culture, but because whiteness is seen as the norm and the baseline there is nothing separating it from American Culture… whiteness is just American Culture,” said Nia Quigley, senior.
“I think a lot of other cultures have a lot of traditions that they follow that make them who they are, and I don’t think there is anything like that for white people,” said Jordan Pinder, sophomore.
Should there be a White History Month?
So, the big question is: should there be a White History Month?
“I don’t think [there should be a White History Month] because I think a lot of other cultures and races have done a lot more, and it helps with equality,” said Pinder.
Groups like veterans, women and disabled people all have federally recognized months. It was created to celebrate what these groups have overcome.
“The things white people have achieved in this country were on the backs of people of color, so it kind of hard to celebrate their achievements,” said Liya Mekuria, junior.
“I think if you want to have equality, having a White History Month would be right,” said an anonymous student at Leesville.
While it is important to know your history, having a White History Month to celebrate White Americans is tricky, and this debate will probably forever continue.
Black History Month is meant to uplift Black Americans and recognize their history, not make other races and ethnicities feel less than others.