We never seem to be able to get through Black History Month without some white person somewhere showing out. This needs to stop.
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My granny—my mother’s mother—had a favorite saying she repeated often: “Black people can’t have shit.”
She would say it when she noticed culture appropriation, or when Black folks had their joy interrupted by some non-Black force determined to make Black people feel bad.
Now, I know my grandmother isn’t the only Black person to use this saying; I say it often, and I found myself repeating it just this February, otherwise known as Black History Month.
This is going to come across as a rant, and that’s because it is.
Why can’t Black people enjoy Black History Month without the complications and interruptions of white people, with their racism and their fragility?
Let’s start with a favorite white lament: Whenever Black History Month comes around, white people start carping about why there is no white history month, deliberately ignoring the fact that the totality of what we are taught in school is white history. Everyone else’s histories are neatly wrapped up in a chapter of the book that conveniently skips over how white people used the power of white supremacy and institutionalized racism to marginalize everyone else.
Why, white people, why?
Why are white people so bothered by the illumination and celebration of Black triumphs in this country, especially at a time when we are still encountering firsts—like the first Black woman ever to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court in its 232-year history?
President Joe Biden nominated a Black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the white sheets and hoods came out immediately. Everything about this Black woman has been called into question by those who would diminish her accomplishments by calling it an “affirmative action” nomination.
Never mind that she has had more judiciary experience than some of our current sitting justices—combined (I’m especially looking at you Amy, Clarence, and Chief Justice John Roberts). Never mind that both her undergraduate and law degrees are from Harvard University. Never mind that she has a better educational pedigree than the last two Republican presidents combined.
Nah, these people want to diminish all of that and say she has only been nominated because she is Black, ignoring all her other obvious qualifications for the job.
Why, white people? Why?
We had the Super Bowl a little over two weeks ago, and the halftime show was the Blackest thing ever. Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, Eminem, and Anderson. Paak performed on a stage that was an entire homage to the city of Compton. It was also a special treat for all of Gen X, and when I tell you I was on my feet the entire time, please believe me.
Of course, the whites got their knickers in a bunch over it. Never mind that every other halftime show in the history of the Super Bowl has been an ode to whiteness. These people were mad that Black people had ten minutes just for themselves on one of the world’s biggest stages.
Why is it always a problem when Black culture is celebrated? Why can’t we just enjoy Black History Month?
The problem is that whiteness is centered so much in our world, people like this don’t know how to respond when it isn’t. White people don’t have to worry about their “culture” being left out of anything, because it’s always present, but they still complain when they can’t see themselves in something. They will even go so far as to insert themselves where they don’t belong.
A man who worked for Estée Lauder making $10 million a year chose the last day of Black History Month to post a racist meme to his Instagram account. The company fired him—or forced him into retirement, or whatever happens to rich white men who do things like this—and we are sure he will be just fine because white men always have a way of falling up. He posted an apology on his Instagram account.
Underneath his apology, the comments are filled with white people offering him their forgiveness, telling him they didn’t think the meme was racist and encouraging him in his time of difficulty.
Because, even on the last day of Black History Month, the shortest month of the year, Black people can’t have shit—not even a half-assed apology for someone’s racist transgression.
That these people think it is up to them to forgive John Demsey rather than the entire race of people offended by the meme is telling. Y’all can’t even let us decide if we want to offer forgiveness? Y’all can’t even let us determine what is and is not offensive to us?
Listen. 2022 is not the only year where Black History Month has been complete and total trash. It happens all the time. What should be a celebration of our people, our history, our culture, our contributions to this nation and the consummate beauty that is wrapped in being Black, is always overshadowed by some white person doing or saying something goofy.
Please stop this. Plan ahead. Put it on your calendar. Make it your new year’s resolution.
We don’t get much in this country aside from constant headaches and ongoing trauma.
Please let us have the month of February without intruding with your bullshit.
Why can’t we just enjoy Black History Month?
Will y’all at least let us have that?
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