Commentary: Is There Really a Need for a “White Appreciation Day"?

Arizona Republican Rep. Cecil Ash thinks so. 

Posted: 02/06/2012 12:57 PM EST
Cecil Ash suggest White Appreciation Day

Black History Month serves as a time to commemorate the deeds of many African-Americans whose names have never been learned. Now, however, some lawmakers are saying there also needs to be a “white appreciation day.”

 

Recently on the House floor, Rep. Cecil Ash, a Republican from Mesa, Arizona, suggested that the state needs a holiday for white people … Really?

 

The conversation was sparked after Rep. Richard Miranda stated there should be a Latino American day in the state, due to the vast numbers of Latinos in Arizona.

 

In response, and after a heated debate, Ash stepped to the mic and said, "I'm supportive of this proposition. I just want them to assure me that when we do become in the minority, you'll have a day for us."

 

"Good idea … We need something for whites," another person commented.

 

I’m all for celebrating the accomplishments of other races, but perhaps there needs to be a reminder of why Black History Month has existed for more than 30 years.

 

Over the years, and especially in a period of time that many right-wing Republicans are calling a “post-racial age of Obama,” critics argue there is no longer a need to dedicate an entire month to the accomplishments of Black Americans. The reality is, however, that despite the end of slavery, the contributions of Blacks are largely still not documented. Black History Month serves as an opportunity for schools and communities nationwide to organize and host lectures and presentations on the history of Blacks — information often left out of textbooks.

 

Unfortunately, to be honest, almost every day is white appreciation day in American classrooms. In a sample Discovery K-5 social studies lesson plan, Paul Revere and the minutemen, George Washington, the Continental Army, Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence were a part of the agenda, but where were the minorities? I can even remember learning “American history” without the stories of George Washington’s slaves, or the people who made inventions like Lewis Latimer — who created the long-lasting light bulb, helping to advance society.

 

Although the accomplishments of many minority leaders are often blatantly unrecognized, later in the House meeting, Ash still went on to say that if and when the Caucasian population becomes a minority in Arizona, their accomplishments should be celebrated the same way as minorities like Blacks.

 

I can agree that if the successes of any American group are completely obliterated, or not included in history, sure, there should be reason to celebrate their existence. But, let’s be honest, are U.S. textbooks and archives ever going to forget or leave out the accomplishments of the majority of the population of the United States?

 

Probably not … and until I see it happening, I’m not sure I can agree with Rep. Cecil Ash.



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