Why Was White History Month Trending?
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Why Was White History Month Trending?

An accurate telling of American history isn’t what they really want

With the arrival of Black History Month celebrations in February, the inevitable calls for a White History Month arose on X by those who feel somehow neglected, as if every month of the year wasn’t already dedicated to white history. The truth is a lot of white history has been left out of the books, and Americans of every color need to be aware.

The white history we’ve been taught is mostly a fallacy. We were taught that George Washington had wooden teeth, not the reality that his false teeth included teeth taken from enslaved people, those he owned. George Washington treated his slaves like every other enslaver of the time, tearing apart families long before Donald Trump and authorizing beatings to maintain order.

Washington’s will stipulated if he died before his wife Martha, the enslaved people he owned (as opposed to those she held) would be freed after her death. Martha ended up freeing his slaves once she realized they had a great incentive to speed up her death and thus gain their freedom. She released them not from the goodness of her heart but in fear for her life.

We know Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, most famously Sally Hemings, with whom he had a decades-long relationship as she bore him six children. Let’s be clear that there’s no such thing as a consensual relationship between slave and master. Thomas Jefferson repeatedly raped her, although historians would never describe it that way. Many historians and Jefferson’s family members denied the lineage of Hemings' children, even after DNA established it as fact. Only recently have they grudgingly acknowledged a couple of the children might have been Thomas Jefferson’s, if not his brother’s.

Abraham Lincoln is credited with freeing the enslaved people with the Emancipation Proclamation. He only released the enslaved people in the Southern states that seceded from the Union. He did that for two reasons: to inflict economic pain on the South and to keep France and Britain from siding with the South against the North because of their recent aversion to slavery. In the famous Lincoln/Douglas debates, Lincoln did all he could to avoid being called an abolitionist. He repeatedly claimed that Black people were not socially equal to white people nor as intelligent. Given his druthers, he’d have sent all the slaves to Liberia or Central America and been rid of them.

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There is so much white history purposefully unknown to most Americans that we must dedicate a month or more to its study. We could understand why the Electoral College, which gives additional power today to rural states with low populations, was initially intended to protect slave states and ensure more populated ones couldn’t outlaw slavery by the weight of their numbers. We’d know the rationale for the 3/5th’s clause and the provision of the Constitution that allowed for the ending of the International Slave Trade no sooner than 1808. That prohibition had nothing to do with ending slavery but was about the protectionism of the Domestic slave trade, which led to one of the most heinous acts ever perpetrated in the world: slave breeding farms.

America has spent more time denying the existence of breeding farms than educating people about them and led by large slave breeding farms in Richmond, VA, and the Maryland Eastern Shore. Farms whose populations were almost exclusively black women were forced to have child after child that was ultimately shipped to Southern plantations to meet their needs. Some “benevolent” enslavers offered the women their freedom after they bore at least 15 children. The fathers were often sent from nearby plantations, although the owners felt free to sample the wares whenever they chose. Thomas Jefferson knew the value of an enslaved woman, though they may have never tilled the field or harvested a crop.

Many of the laws that exist today stem from slavery or its aftermath. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prevented actions of Federal Troops on US soil, was to ensure that Federal Troops never again protected the black ex-slaves in the South. Their stationing allowed for the Reconstruction Era, while their removal brought Reconstruction to a swift end.

Even people who have heard of “Juneteenth” may not know its entire history. Yes, it reflects the date Blacks in Texas learned they were free, months after the Civil War ended. You won’t learn that the Federal government was complicit in the delay so that one more cotton crop could be harvested. Texas history books would seem the appropriate place to look for an accurate telling of their history. Still, they would be told a tale of “American Exceptionalism” that suggests slavery was a labor arrangement.

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The Ocoee Massacre murdered or burned out the entire black population of Ocoee, FL, after two men tried to vote in the 1920 Presidential Election. There was a movie about a similar mass lynching in Rosewood, FL, but you still hear almost nothing about it. During the Black Wall Street massacre, the Oklahoma National Guard bombed the Greenwood District of Tulsa by air. Aiding the hundreds of white attackers defending a white elevator operator who claimed (and later denied) she’d been raped. The Groveland FourEmmett Till, the list goes on and on. Let’s have a White History Month because every effort is being made to sweep it under the rug.

By 1921, the Greenwood District was the wealthiest black community in America. Attached is the full documentary by The History Channel in 2016. It’s almost an hour long, which may deter some from watching. Should you watch, you’ll gain an understanding of what the history books have yet to share.

An accurate White History Month would tell of the creation of the middle class in America and how Black people were excluded by being denied FHA and VA loans and government-approved redlining. It will discuss voter suppression after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and how it continues to this day. It would describe mass incarceration and modern-day slavery as allowed by the 13th Amendment and perpetuated by “voluntary” prison labor.

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White History Month, as imagined on Twitter, would only work with Ron DeSantis at the helm. It would ease out the feel-bad parts of history while highlighting white achievement. The proposers don’t appreciate it would open the floodgates and that the hidden parts would be more exposed rather than less. Let’s have several White History Month’s, perhaps every other month, rotating with different groups of color taking turns. I’m sure Native Americans, Latinos, and Japanese Americans have things to say. Let’s throw in an LGBTQ month for good measure.

I’m all for a White History Month. Proponents should be careful what they ask for, they just might get it.

This post originally appeared on Medium and is edited and republished with author's permission. Read more of William Spivey's work on Medium. And if you dig his words, buy the man a coffee.