Former Saturday Night Live alum, Victoria Jackson, penned an essay last week pondering the philosophical conundrum: "Why is there a Black History Month but not a White History Month?" As a de facto mouthpiece for the plight of the oppressed white race, she went on to lament "I'm just really tired of the white male, and especially the white conservative, Christian male being attacked in cartoons, movies, TV shows, politics, Affirmative Action, etc. Now that the white race is becoming a minority in America, perhaps we need to make ... say, January, White History month."
Jackson's statements are perhaps the most poignant example of human suffering since millions of Subway patrons realized the "footlongs" they'd been eating all those years were comprised of merely eleven inches of processed filth. She's "really tired," and only a national month of remembrance dedicated to the struggles and hardships of her people will ease that pain. Hence, I feel it necessary to provide her with a roadmap for achieving her goal.
An Open Letter to Victoria Jackson, and all the White People Suffering in Silence:
Dear Ms. Jackson,
I read your astute essay and I'd like to offer my assistance in helping you obtain that coveted "White History Month." Unfortunately, it's no longer simply a matter of making a few phone calls -- they're not handing out months of remembrance like they used to now that we're living under, to use your words, "God-hating communists like Alec Baldwin and Obama" (although the Dow did close at over 14,000 on the same day you posted your impassioned plea).
If you want your White History Month, you're going to have to earn it. And since your essay was posted on the first day of Black History Month, perhaps it would be fitting to draw some parallels from the struggles of African-Americans. Here goes (via extraordinarily broad strokes):
First, gather about 600,000 of your friends (I'd clarify as 'white' friends, but something tells me your Rolodex isn't ethnically diverse) and head to the nearest port. You and your friends will be greeted there by a ship captain, and then forced against your will to take a voyage (think of it as a cruise) of sorts. Fair warning: it's a long trip, so you'd better pack some reading material (I recommend Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States and W.E.B. Du Bois' The Souls of Black Folk).
Next, you'll arrive in a foreign land and undergo a transformation from human being to the property of your master. You'll be subjected to slavery, and forced to endure such abhorrent, subhuman treatment as rape and torture on a daily basis for over 200 years. You'll of course be dead before those 200-odd-years transpire, but (lucky for you) your descendants are also deemed the master's property, so they'll be able to continue working towards your noble cause of a White History Month.
Following emancipation, you (or your descendants) will enjoy second-class citizenship and undergo around 100 years of hatred, violence, and ignorance directed at you solely on account of the color of your skin. And depending on where you live you'll either be openly or covertly persecuted, and lynched, often by the very people sworn to uphold your tenuous rights.
But finally -- and this is where it gets easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy -- you'll get to begin the struggle for a semblance of equality, though true equality will elude you to present-day. And if you're concerned about your story being told accurately for posterity purposes, you're quite perceptive (after all, Black History Month wasn't born out of pity, but necessity, as white teachers and administrators refused to comprehensively acknowledge the history of slavery). Because in America -- where holidays, and months of remembrance, and moments of silence are handed out willy-nilly for everyone except white people -- slavery, genocide, and other atrocities are glossed-over, so as not to besmirch the legend of exceptionalism. Moreover, you'll forever be goaded by the ignorant who feel that, although you suffered greatly, it's "enough already," as suffering can take many forms (including being "really tired" of cartoon attacks) but only some are deserving of a designated month of remembrance.
So, Ms. Jackson, are you and your oppressed white counterparts willing to take one for the team and earn that White History Month you believe you so deserve? It should only take about 300 years of indelible suffering and carnage, but can you really compare that to 31 days in January every year?
The Lunatic Fringe:
The notion that simply acknowledging Jackson's absurd statements lends them credence is a valid one. Granted, her lunacy doesn't deserve any additional attention. However, it's important to note that Jackson is, for better or worse, a public figure with a following.
Two days before the presidential inauguration, Andy Borowitz, brilliant satirist for The New Yorker, published a piece entitled "Fox News to Shut Down for Routine Maintenance Monday Morning at 11:30." Unfortunately, the seemingly obvious jab at the network's notoriously biased coverage was -- despite including quotes such as "for the twelve hours Fox News is off the air on Monday the network will broadcast a continuous photomontage of white people" -- misconstrued by some Fox enthusiasts as not only factual, but refreshingly novel.
People immediately took to Facebook to laud Fox for such a shrewd tactic, and then removed their comments upon the delayed realization that satire can be a cruel lesson. These are the same people who devour sentiments like Jackson's as sacred truths, and Jackson is but a blip on the radar among her ilk.
And until the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, and Glenn Beck move to Beck's utopian city -- Independence, USA -- and take their legions of lemmings with them, their inflammatory statements need to be acknowledged and refuted. Because those unable to grasp that by designating a White History Month they'll actually be sacrificing the additional 11 months already devoted to white history in America, or that Fox News doesn't shut down for routine maintenance (even for the inauguration of a Black President), are apt to believe anything.
The Black experience in America is one that is defined by the scourge of oppression, which is not merely an untold story, but a master-narrative created by the white establishment. To literally suggest that a white person, even if they were to enslave themselves for any period of time, could somehow recreate the effects (both immediate and long-term) of slavery and oppression is to not fully acknowledge the privileges inherent in being white, nor the damaging remnants of slavery clearly visible today.