Last year I got in a wee bit of trouble when I suggested that white girls deserved their own history month. I was wrong, I understand that, and I accept it. It’s called progress guys, and I’m just trying my best to become a good person. Even now I can’t believe I ever felt the way I did a year ago. I can’t believe that I didn’t understand what was so offensive about asking for white history month, or even a derivation of such a thing specifically for white girls. Boy was I wrong. I apologize.
But to be honest, guys, I still feel kind of left out on Black History Month. I can’t help that. As a white woman, I certainly feel excluded from Black History Month, and it’s messed up, because I’m no longer asking for my own month, just a way that I can participate in Black History Month without feeling like a bad guy.
That’s why I’m suggesting that, in ADDITION to regular Black History Month, we also have a second Black History Month, in March or something, that’s only for white people. It’s still about black culture and history, it’s still about the civil rights movement and slavery, but we let white allies lead the conversation for a change. We give a voice to the people that usually don’t have one. I really think this would be a great way to add some usually-silenced voices into the mix.
In the last year, thanks to some very scoldy friends and through the help of angry folks on twitter, I’ve learned that being an ally isn’t about participation, it’s about sitting in silence and accepting criticism from oppressed groups. It’s about making quiet internal improvements, and making sure you never demonstrate those improvements with anything other than complete silence. It’s sympathetic stoicism, expressed with an extended, endless breath of apology. Being a good ally is kind of like being a good soldier, and minorities are like drill instructors. Sure they’re mean and they don’t ever stop yelling at you, but it’s helping you to release your identity and fall in line with the good ideologies. It’s helping you become a good person.
But even soldiers get to go on leave at some point, so shouldn’t allies? Shouldn’t brave racial allies like myself get ONE month out of the year where we can control the conversation about what it means to be black? Doesn’t Iggy Azalea have at least ONE song that you like? Can’t you just for once admit that Macklemore has done more for gay people with his music than most gay people have ever done with hashtags? Can’t I have ANY input on what “on fleek” means? I’m not asking for much, I just want a single month out of the year where I get to be the one scolding people and shaking my damn head. I want to be the one that frightens people with my outrage. I want to be apologized to, just once, instead of being the one issuing apologies.
After all, I spend the other 11 months out of the year constantly taking a back seat in racial conversations. Just the other day I was listening to a black friend of mine explain to her daughter who Malcom X was, and being the good ally that I am, I chimed in with some facts.
“Actually,” I began, as my friend’s eyes glazed over, the corners of her mouth sinking, “his real name was Malcolm Little. X was a pretend name that he gave himself, like a rapper.”
“What do you mean his ‘real name,’ my friend asked.
“Well, you know, the name he was born with.”
“That doesn’t make it his real name,” she said, as I smiled at her daughter.
“Yes it does,” I said.
She quickly scooped up her child and left the restaurant. Once again I had been silenced while simply trying to participate and educate a young black child on their own history.
And you know what? That’s fine. I’m used to it. But I’ve put in a lot of hard work to make race better, and I deserve a god damn month.