By Chris Crass ( February 24, 2016)
One of the ways that white supremacy hurts white people is that it teaches white people they have nothing to learn from the histories of people of color. #BlackHistoryMonth isn’t just something for Black people, it’s a key to open doors to historical knowledge that white supremacy wants EVERYONE to remain ignorant of. For white people who believe in peace, justice, and fairness, white supremacy actively works to straight jacket these values into narrow conceptions that actually reproduce injustice and rationalize brutality. You can hear it every time a white person says “All Lives Matter”.
Black History Month is nourishment to the starved white imagination that has been systematically denied the life-affirming and life-giving vision, leadership, and moral courage of the Black freedom movement, a movement that began in revolts on slave ships, and continues today with #BlackLivesMatter. White people have simultaneously been told by white supremacy that we are intellectually and culturally superior, while raising us to be illiterate on the history of the country, and encouraging us act politically from fear and resentment.
Black History Month is an opportunity for white people – all white people who want healthy communities, want dignity and respect, who want a beautiful life for their kids – an opportunity to learn from and embrace not only the humanity of Black people, and the powerful stories of working for equality and freedom, but also an opportunity for white people to free themselves of the lies and hate of white supremacy, and embrace their/our full humanity as well.
In addition to being denied Black History as white people, in addition to often being lied to about what Black history we have learned, we have also been denied the long and vibrant history of white anti-racists who have refused the death culture of racism, who have rejected fear and hate, who have embraced the call for racial, economic, and gender justice for all, and who can inspire and guide white people to today to join the growing movement for racial justice and Black Lives Matter, the leading movement for a better world for all of us. For collective liberation, with Black Lives Matter at the center, let all of us who are white learn the histories we were trained to ignore, trained to be confused and ignorant about, and let us nourish our hearts and souls, so that we may fight white supremacy and work for the world our children and elders of all colors, deserve.