black history month is a period of mourning, not a theme party

Alternet published 6 Tips for White People Who Want to Celebrate Black History, by a white lady and a black lady. The tone is bizarre:

We’ve come a long way from Negro History Week to Black History Month and yet too often the celebrations that are planned in predominantly white spaces are nothing short of lackluster, rarely bringing a modern-day context to the celebration or acknowledgment that Black history is a continually evolving living history in which we all play a role.

We have and have not made progress since 1926. I’d say it’s a little early for celebration.


Part of the problem is that for non-black people, too often there is a sense of being a passive celebrator. Yet, in this current climate there is immense opportunity. We can make real racial change by moving from passive observation to active engagement if we move past our own internal roadblocks and fears of messing up.

How patronizing is it for White Lady to act like black history is a topic that makes us say, “Fuck yeah!”? Let us take this moment and feel joy for MLK and…those other black people or whoever.

We all have our /facepalm moments. If you did something racist and sincerely apologized and then didn’t do that anymore, you’d make someone’s day guaranteed. At some point it would be better if white people stopped fearing black people, except in the case where they’ve decided to maintain their racism, in which case be afraid motherfuckers.

Black history is more than just the named activists, agitators and changemakers—it encompasses the full scope of Black humanity, and our celebration of Black history needs to be inclusive of the full range of black humanity. Celebrate not just the overcoming of adversity, but celebrate our joys, our passion, and our magic. Understand why we celebrate this history and the importance of naming race—and, yes, racism—in our communities. Let the celebration of Black history be a journey and not a destination.

I really don’t like the way the voice moves back and forth between the white lady and the black lady, using “we” throughout.

If we’re going to dwell on black history, a period of mourning and figuring out how to make it better sounds more appropriate than a high-five. They have 6 other ideas.

1. Attend two or more Black History Month events.

Google “Black History Month” and the name of your town or region. Look for events that dig deeper than “observing” or “celebrating” Black history. When possible, look for events led by Black community members. Deepen your experience by noticing what you do and don’t know about the white policies and practices that shaped the Black history you are learning. Notice also the internal reactions and feelings that arise in you before, during, and after the event. Following up on thoughts such as “Why didn’t I know this?” “Why was I uncomfortable when he said that?” “I want to learn more about X, Y, Z” will make your outings more than checkmark. Good questions lead to both answers and more questions, propelling you along a robust racial awareness journey.

Actually, just go to the library and read about the horrors. It’s all been written down. It’s actually pretty draining to explain to white people who only half care all the awful things done to your ancestors by their ancestors. Black people doing labor for white people is kind of what we’re talking about here…(yes, I understand that people volunteer to host educational events)

2. Share what you’re doing and learning.

One of the cornerstones of white culture is not talking about race. Though often framed as politeness, the result is ongoing white ignorance with a soul-crushing demand on communities of color to go along with the silence. The more white people don’t know, the scarier it can be to start talking. Breaking this cycle is one of the most important things white people can do, and Black History Month gives you an excuse to do so. Create a “new normal” in your circles that race is something you want and need to think and talk about in order to better understand it. At a bare minimum, choose two close white friends or family to update regularly about what you’re doing and learning. Notice how they react. Are they listening with curiosity? Or are they judging and distancing from you? If they’re curious, can you move them to join you at a future event? If they’re judging and distancing, a great strategy is to ask them questions to explore what’s behind it. Avoid returning the judgment and distance unless their behavior leads you to conclude this is no longer a healthy friendship.

The likely result of following this advice is that the racist they talk to will bully them back into the fold. N00bs aren’t going to know the answers to all the racist talking points yet.

If white people made fascists afraid again, that’d be great.

3. Gather a group of people to attend an event and a followup gathering.

Learning and acting in community is the most powerful way to learn and act. Surround yourself with other curious and/or committed white folks and dig deeply as a group. The number-one rule when talking about race is to bring the most humble version of yourself. Be prepared to explore what you don’t know even more than sharing what you do know. In group conversation, strive to have everyone’s voice heard. A possible opening might be to go around the group one by one to offer a one- to two-minute summary of what’s on everyone’s mind before launching into a full group conversation. Another idea is to explore these two questions: 1) If talking openly about race is new to you, how does it feel to you now to be talking about it? and 2) What are the consequences of not talking about race, racism, and the history of racial oppression?

Alright, I really don’t understand this fixation on “events.” Important events took place in the past. Learn about them.

If you’re ignorant, how about STFU and learn instead of getting together in a circle jerk about how it’s okay to be ignorant because you’re trying so hard.

You’re really going to have to get over the need to be liked if you start speaking up for black people.

The suggestions continue along the same lines.

For black history month, I want white people to figure out how to be a person without needing to believe things that aren’t true.