In an earlier post about Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I included the fairly well known joke:
If February is Black History Month and March is Women’s History Month, what happens the rest of the year?
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.