America Needs an Education in Whiteness

tags: racism, Race, American History, White Supremacy, Whiteness

These 28 days of Black History Month are dedicated to the sometimes painful and absolutely essential history of Americans of African descent. The month also brings the usual grumblings demanding a white equivalent. And those of us who study culture and history are tasked to explain the many reasons why that is a horrible idea (again).

But maybe we need a different tactic, because as recent events in Virginia politics show, clearly some sort of education on whiteness is in order. Esquire magazine’s controversial and poorly timed profile this month headlined “The Life of an American Boy at 17” further hints at the entrenched perception that being truly American means being white.

We don’t need to honor a “white history” per se—we already emphasize it in our schools and on most national holidays throughout the rest of the year. But educating people about the invention of whiteness is something this country desperately needs. Both the titan of black studies, W.E.B. Du Bois, and the titan of black letters, James Baldwin, seemed to think so.

Read entire article at Slate

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