I once posed the (rhetorical) question "What's up with black history month? Why don't we have white history month?" It wasn't a serious question, wasn't meant to be answered, it was meant to make people think. It wasn't meant to provoke any particular thought, it was just meant to make people THINK because I feel that a lot of them don't do it nearly enough. People are too absorbed in their lives and they don't 'see the forest for the trees.'
I got a response from someone who took it seriously, and they rather aggressively said something along the lines of "because of the plight that black people went through," while insinuating that I was an idiot for even conjuring up such a thought. This person is correct, African Americans went through hell. So did Japanese Americans during WWII, Native Americans, Jews, immigrants, and many, many other groups. I'm not saying that we should ignore that, deny it, or make light of it. What happened in all of those cases was horrendous and should never, ever be repeated.
However, the more I think about it, the more I realize something. Why do we need a MONTH dedicated to African American history? Shouldn't that be something we always remember? We're fighting racism, still, in this day and age (which is ridiculous, by the way). Doesn't it seem that by creating a month-long event where we 'honor' what happened, that we're further distancing the races? It's practically SCREAMING "they're different!"
Isn't the battle against racism and prejudice about trying to convince people that we're all human and that we all have so much in common? Black history month isn't the only thing that distances us, either. Native Americans are still being compensated for what happened how many years ago? I know that their land was stolen from them, but that was their ANCESTORS. The Native Americans living on reservations and getting "perks" from the government didn't have their land stolen from them. They were born into the United States, just like me. This could be a touchy issue, but that brings me to another point...
I'm not racist, I don't discriminate against anyone based on their gender, disability, race, age, or anything else. Even so, somehow I'm still walking on eggshells. If I disagree with someone who happens to be different from me, am I going to be accused of prejudice?
I did not enslave African Americans, and I did not manipulate natives out of land. I wasn't even BORN when those things happened. Just because others of my race were involved, doesn't mean I should pay for it, or even feel guilty for it. I'm ashamed, sure. I'm ashamed because HUMANS did it. I'm ashamed to be part of the same species who torture and kill and scorn each other, mostly over completely inane crap.
I'm not saying people should forget their culture and all be clones. I just think we should stop fixating on and overcompensating for what happened in the past and focus on not making the same mistakes in the present and the future.