You know how it goes. You’re sitting at the lunch table, hanging out by the lockers, or chatting while doing classwork, and somebody starts talking about what they watched on BET last night.
If it ended there, that’d be cool, but sometimes, it leads to an entirely different kind of convo: one where someone ends up saying, “If we named a channel ‘White Entertainment Television’ we’d be called racist.” And before you can even say a thing, then comes the biggie: “There’s no White History Month, so why do you get Black History Month?”
This has happened to us several times, too, and we know that tinge of sarcasm can sting. Your breathing gets heavier, your face starts to feel hot; you’re about to pop off.
Instead of losing your cool, take a deep breath and handle your business accordingly by dropping a little knowledge on ’em.
1. Break Down the Background
Your friends may legit not realize that every other channel basically is “white entertainment television,” so instead of getting into an argument, try to help them understand what’s really gone down. Explain to them that just like HBCUs, black sororities and fraternities, and certain magazines (ahem), BET ( and now Centric and TV One) was created because those other channels weren’t trying to have people who look like you on their shows. Let them marinate on that.
2. White History Month is Every Month, Boo Boo
Ask your friends to think on that for a second: How much Black history do they actually know compared to how much “white” history they know? What do those school textbooks really cover? What do they leave out? Help your friends realize that if American history recognized everybody — African Americans, European Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, etc. — there wouldn’t be a need to emphasize one group one month out of the year because it would happen all year. In fact, Carter G. Woodson, the man who started Negro History Week way back in 1926 (it didn’t become Black History Month until 1976), started it because Black people were left out of the history books. Oh, and BTW, Black history is everyone’s history, too.
3. Get it? Got it? (Good.)
It’s ok if you’ve had similar talks with your friends before because that means you all are open to learning from each other. But, if those same people come at you with an attitude, looking to start the same argument over and over again, you might want to rethink your friendship. Real friends can accept when they’re wrong and learn from it. Fake friends just want to start drama.
Now, we know you’re not the spokesgirl for all Black people, and we’re definitely not suggesting you ever try to be, but if these people are who you call friends, give them the benefit of the doubt. They may just need help understanding, and who better to help them out than someone they know best?
How do you handle it when people tell you Black History Month is racist?