Heritage Months Should Not be Necessary

In our world today, months dedicated to celebrating certain cultures and their history are important, but we have to be cautious not to let them stop us from being continuously celebratory and appreciative of all cultures. October is Latinx Heritage Month, which means that Berkeley High School (BHS) Latinx groups will be holding assemblies, history teachers should be spending additional  time focusing on Latinx history, and Latinx artists will get the chance to display their artwork. While these are all exciting and wonderful ways to honor these rich and diverse cultures, it begs the question, why do we need to have specific cultural months? Unfortunately, the answer to that question has not changed over time. The United States does not value the experiences of racial groups like Latinxs or African Americans as much as it values the experiences of white people.

This should not be how our country works, but it is. Our history curriculum should consistently include a diverse set of perspectives and narratives. It should be the norm for our talent shows and other entertainment to include cultural performances. In Berkeley, our education has been more inclusive and diverse, with more and more teachers abandoning the “old white man” rhetoric in favor of young, diverse, female, and gender-nonbinary writers.

Recently, a niche population of Americans have begun to demand a White History Month. What would a White History Month even look like? The answer, of course, is that because white is neither a culture nor a geographical ethnicity, it would make no sense to have a White History Month. For starters, our current school curriculum is very centered around what could be called white history. Everything is told from the perspective of the people in power, and in the case of almost all world history, people of European descent have ended up in power. It would be completely different to celebrate Irish History Day, or Russian Heritage Month, as those are both geographically and culturally specific communities of people. There is no universal language, religion, or culture that unifies all white people. In fact, it could be said that the only thing all white people have in common with each other is their privilege. The mere concept of White History Month reveals the entitlement and ignorance of the people who demand it.

So this month, take the opportunities presented to you to keep an open mind and appreciate a culture that may not match your own. Don’t feel like because you celebrated Latinx Heritage for a month, you can ignore or disvalue these cultures during the rest of the year. For any white readers who are frustrated that there’s no talent show for you, understand that the world is already your stage and it’s time to share it.

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