What if we made June white-male month?

In an earlier post about Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I included the fairly well known joke:

Question:

If February is Black History Month and March is Women’s History Month, what happens the rest of the year?

Answer:

Discrimination.

Renee, of Womanist Musings, expanded on the joke’s answer in the comment thread:

“…having those two months dedicated to women and blacks is discrimination. Deciding that we only need to talk about blacks in February and Women in March means that for the rest of the year it is okay talk about white males. If we truly meant to be inclusive these would be issues that we talked about 12 months a year. “Special Months” are not a sign of tolerance they are a sign of discrimination.”

I, along with Renee, take issue with “special months.” I think they set up a segregationist approach to learning that allows (and even celebrates) learning about “Others” only during appropriate months.

Come February, teachers break out the Martin Luther King Junior picture books or play his speeches for students. If they are really trying to be “multi-cultural” they might also include “extra” curriculum on Black History, ensuring their lesson plans pay homage to the month. The problem is that this type of inclusivity should not be done for a month, but throughout the year.

However, being the white-centric, male-centric society that we are, some claim we should be thankful for such months. I say what we should do is flip it around and make June “white-male history month.” The rest of the year could be all-inclusive curriculum. (Note: I picked June as it is the end of the school year and I think it is high time WM’s came last for once. I think it is also important to point out that I am referring to the normative conception of white-maleness here — or middle to upper-class, Christian, heterosexual, able-bodied, right leaning, “properly masculine” white males who must, of course, like sports)

It is not that I don’t like white males – in fact, there are quite a few I love. Those that I love don’t see this idea as problematic because they realize their privileges and want to work to dismantle them. They understand it’s time to share the reigns.

I am not saying we need to deny that WM’s have done great things, but we need to give everyone else an equal place in history (and school curriculum).

So, I say enough with the “special months” – let’s make the whole damn year reflect the true diversity of this planet and let’s stop making it ok to be racist, sexist, and homophobic year round. Let’s stop making it ok to only care about cancer in October or only be aware of transphobia on transgender remembrance day. How about instead if we tried to be human(e) every damn day? How about if we revamped our conception of history to include everybody – not just white male heterosexuals? And while I’m at it, how about we paid as much attention to social injustice and what we can do to make the world a better place as we do to friggin’ Super Bowl Commercials? That would truly be a time worth celebrating.

11 thoughts on “What if we made June white-male month?”

  1. So, as a middle to upper-class, Christian, heterosexual, able-bodied, American male who realizes my privileges and wants to work to dismantle them … what should I do?

  2. Too bad most of history was made by white males. As for women and blacks for most of the time history was made to them. We barely have material to fill one month of each. If they were to make the whole year who knows what nobodies would have to be scraped from the bottom of the trashbin of history to try and give “equal representation”.

  3. Davo,
    I hope you won’t mind if I address your question in another post. I am percolating it now and it should be up by this weekend. As you can see in the comment posted by Davi, there is MUCH work to be done.

    Davi,
    Wow, given your utter lack of knowledge of history (not to mention your white male supremacist view), I am surprised you would “lower” yourself to write to a “nobody” such as myself (re: a woman).

    Alas, trolling is as widespread as the horrific worldview you hold — that only while males matter.

    I hope someone, somewhere is able to open your mind.

  4. Prof:
    Thanks! I’d look forward to reading your thoughts. I forgot to mention in my last comment that I’m white, too. So yeah, I get the pretty much every slice of the privilege pie.

    Davi:
    Sincerely hoping that your comment is sarcastic.

  5. But professor I like being white, heterosexual and happily married so for me you don’t have to have a special month since I celebrate my privileges all year long.

    Oh, and I hope your doing well….

  6. Professor, I was wondering if you had had any further thoughts to the question I posed? (As a white, middle-class, American, Christian, able-bodied male, what is my role in the conversation?)

    1. Davo,
      I am sorry, that post is still in my to do line up! I will get to it, but real life is getting in the way of blog time right now. For now, here are some quick thoughts:

      Everyone has a role in the conversation to eradicate privilege. It is important to examine all of one’s own privileges and think about how they play out in our everyday lives as well as in wider societal structures. Keep educating yourself about dismantling/recognizing privilege and share the knowledge. Diversify your reading and socializing practices — learn from as many different types of people as you can. Keep your critical thinking cap on at all times — as you watch tv, drive down the road, buy groceries, examine the world around you. Speak out when you see people using their privilege against others or denying their privilege. Vote consciously — if you are against male privilege, then only vote for candidates that have a non-sexist record/agenda. Give support to other people who are working to dismantle privilege. Read lists to remind you of your own privileges and the way they impact others — ie the white privilege list, the male privilege list, the able-boded privilege list (all widely available in print and online). Be careful with the language you use – “you guys” perpetuates male privilege in our culture, “lame” perpetuates ablism. Hope this helps…

  7. Excellent. I figured that’s what the deal was; I just wanted to check. I can understand real life getting in the way of blogging. How dare it!?

    You initial response was good. I plan on digging in deeper to all that you said and mulling over it. Thanks much!

  8. Henry,
    Sorry I missed your comment. The fact that someone such as yourself gets to “celebrate privilege” all year long was exactly my point.

  9. Professor: hope your classes are going well. Send me a card in June for white male month. Would love to take one of your classes esp. if their online.

  10. Forgive me for speaking, for I am a white male and I am generally not allowed to speak in public to criticize racism or sexism without having those labels assigned to myself. But, nothing breeds more discrimination like having months named after one’s physical appearance. It only proves that we remain segregated even in this age of so-called enlightenment. True diversity will exist when people stop insisting on diversity for its own sake. I for one am more concerned about individual rights than the rights or entitlements of any arbitrarily defined group.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s