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March 27, 2005

Is Black History Month racist? Is questioning it racist?

Tongue Tied reports that diversity and sensitivity training is necessary after a student questions the established Black History Month. The student believes that Black History Month is inherently racist, stating the following:

"Black History Month is a good idea ... but why are African-Americans the only ones honored with a month about their history?"

Apparently, this has brought rise to racial tensions, and thus requires training to make his opinions correct. At least, that is what I am assuming officials at Wheaton North High School near Chicago think.

I'm sure a number of students here at the University of Virginia remember the proposal a year and a half ago to require diversity training for all students. While this might sound like a decent idea at first, it is terribly ineffective and also goes very much against freedom of speech. To begin with, the only students who would have any interest in such a course likely are the ones who would need it least. Those who need it would likely remember what they were taught for the test, but never take it seriously. Another problem is that such a course would likely only teach one or a few approaches, all dictated by the instructor. Indoctrinating the students, rather than bringing about an open debate to bring many opinions, violates the First Amendment, as it forces one thought process on students (many of whom are in no need of such training). But I digress.

I'll address the first question of the subject first. Is Black History Month racist? Ever hear of White History Month? Yeah, neither have I. I agree with the student, awareness in history, particularly the history of one's own culture, is a good idea. But there does not exist an Asian History Month (or at least it isn't as publicized), or a Hispanic History Month, or an Arab History Month, and so on and so forth. Black History Month takes up constant ad time on TV, with no mention of people from other cultures (or when it is, it isn't always positive). So, is Black History Month racist? No, honestly, I can say it isn't. However, I do believe that the way it is presented is racist.

This brings up the next question. Is questioning it racist? Well, I sure hope not, as I already have. But on a more serious note, I can say absolutely not. There was a time where someone could say whatever they wanted (with exceptions to slanderous/libelous things) without fear of punishment. Today, it is only slanderous if it is racist, and it is only racist if it is against a black person, or a Hispanic in some cases. This is a double standard. It is also, in itself, racist against caucasians.

I hear a lot of people complaining about how there are still problems with racism as there were earlier in American history. I will not deny what they are saying, but the problem of so-called "reverse" racism (people, it is racism no matter who the target is) is also growing. It strikes me as just a bit hypocritical that the black community expects a complete end to racism, but a number of them (as well as some liberals of other races) are not as willing to end it on their side. I am not suggesting that whites give up on healing issues either; continuing to be racist is self-righteous. Issues that exist require cooperation from everyone, not just caucasians, and I would suggest that this student did what he believed would aid in that healing.

One more thing: I grow very tired of hearing extremist African-Americans complaining of "hundreds of years of oppression." Yes, slavery was a disgusting, heinous crime, but they were never enslaved, and today's caucasians were never slave owners. Today's blacks cannot know how they fully felt, and they cannot expect caucasians to be held responsible for the sins of their ancestors.