Friday, April 21, 2006

Black History Month

I apologize for my laziness. Unfortunately, it is continuing; I am going to again steal from my rather non-lazy obsession with debating on Essembly. One person resolved that "If every other month is white history months [sic], then we need to call them such." He supported this by saying:
I resolved that we needed to have a white history month. The most common argument against this was that we have eleven of them. Every other month is white history month was the parroted response.

Therefore, if those eleven months are indeed 'white history months' then we should call them such.
To which I replied:
As is typical with racist arguments, you are taking the correction of an inequity and pretending it is an elevation into superiority. Black History Month makes up for the fact that there would be twelve white history months without it. We live in a white-dominated culture; by default we focus on white history. You can't pretend that white and black history are on equal footing and come to the conclusion that it is therefore unfair that black history gets its own month.

All arguments against Black History Month and affirmative action boil down to conflating the black and white experience as if they get fairly distributed throughout the educational and occupational system, when the reality is that they just aren't. If they were, schools would have already been teaching the things that are added during Black History Month; they aren't. If they were, college enrollment would already reflect the ethnic makeup of the applicant pool; it doesn't. If they were, employers would hire roughly proportional to the ethnic makeup of the qualified applicants; they don't. There are only two reasons these could be the case: 1.) black people are inferior, which they aren't; and 2.) black people are discriminated against, intentionally or otherwise. Black History Month and affirmative action correct these inequities, they take away the unfair privilege of white history, white education, and white employment. They are fair, just, and morally mandatory for any society which values those qualities.
And now I share it here so as to not have to actually come up with a blog post.


  1. With you on all this Ryan.

    I'm a big affirmative action supporter, but I've given some thought to the argument that, say, Colin Powell's son Michael needed less help getting into college than some poor white kid. Still, I think race-based affirmative action has a place in a just culture of reparation, and in building up a black middle class. My thought: EXPAND affirmative action to include poor people, while keeping the strictly racial stuff. Then, poor whites and middle class blacks would be about even in their chances, and America's most destitute population, poor blacks, due to their overlapping position on the ol' Venn diagram, would have a better chance of competing against poor whites and middle class blacks then they do now.

    Then again, this would require talking about class, which scares America way more than race, so it ain't gonna happen. Still, it gives me something to say when angry white men bring up the Colin Powell argument.

  2. I'd agree and disagree with Tom. My deviation comes at the place where the poor white kid is mentioned. Affirmative action was meant for underrepresented groups, not individuals. That is how it was set up, so the poor white kid wasn't taken into account because it was meant to increase diversity by including those groups, not giving an opportunity for specific people. However, I do think affirmative action needs to be looked at again and definitely take class into account. There should be a line where race stops becoming the major factor and class becomes the major factor. Where should it be? I can't tell you. I say let's fix the inequalities in the rest of society that make this sort of thing necessary!