Corporate America has taken over yet another time of the year – and not just a holiday, but an entire month.
From Target with their #takeprideeverywhere hashtag to even J.P. Morgan Chase, it’s now corporate heresy to not participate in the annual highlighting of cultural differences.
Now we have two months, June and October, dedicated to observances for the 4.5% of the population that is part of the LGBTQ community.
The months join other “Heritage Months” (or they joined them) like Hispanic Heritage Month (that weirdly spans two months), Native American Heritage Month, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Arab American Heritage Month, Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month (shared with Jewish American Heritage Month).
Only July and August don’t have heritage month’s just yet, but as a Leo, I’m all in favor of a Filipino Tilt-a-Whirl Operator’s Month in July (because they’re our nation’s backbone).
As a Native American, or as I like to say, an “Injun,” that self-identifies as White, these months have always annoyed me.
Last night, I made the mistake of saying that out loud in front of my caustically liberal partner who then proceeded to mock me for whining about not getting a White Guy’s History Month.
In the spirit of getting the last word (that she’ll never read), I decided to put my thoughts down in writing for you, my thoughtful, open-minded reader.
So yeah, these dumb ass months annoy me because first, I don’t give a rat’s ass about how anyone lives.
But mainly I’m annoyed because I see zero value in highlighting our cultural and social differences in a way that further divides our nation.
Why can’t we have a month in which we highlight our commonalities?
For instance, I learned today that Anthony Johnson was America’s first legal slave owner after he petitioned a court to extend the expired contract of his indentured servant to a life term. And Anthony Johnson was black and a former indentured servant himself.
Johnson’s descendants can celebrate their heritage with the families of white plantation owners, slaves, and even Irish indentured servants. How’s that for commonality?
Instead, we have months like June where big box retailers show their “pride” with rainbow colors, flamboyant models and even gay-attired dogs.
Yep, even PetSmart has jumped on the bandwagon with their “You Are Loved” line of rainbow-colored toys, leashes and pet tank tops for those gay and lesbian pups out there.
Corporate America has made a mockery out of all of these heritage months and has also alienated countless Americans who feel like they’re in the wrong for not being an official member of the monthly party.
As a high schooler in Texas, I vividly recall a bad day in my social studies class.
My Latino teacher, who I was fond of, asked us to write down what we’re personally proud of.
As I looked over at a Hispanic classmate, he wrote down “I’m proud to be Mexican” and the rest of the class followed suit – which was the hidden purpose of the exercise.
At the time, I had just been reunited with my father (whom I love) who had spent most of my childhood in prison . . . specifically California prisons including Soledad and San Quentin.
My dad is a big, bald tattooed man that would have scared most soccer moms on the street at the time. And having been in some of America’s worst prisons, race was a matter of survival – so on his back is the bold tattoo “Thank God I’m White”.
Today it’s faded and unrecognizable as is any hint of racism ever held by him. And ironically, my dad is a Potawatomi Indian like me but there’s not much protection running with Native Americans in hard core prisons – they probably would just sell cigarettes (sorry, I crack myself up).
So as I sat in that high school classroom, I innocently recalled my father’s tattoo and made the unforgiveable mistake of following my classmate’s lead and writing down, “I’m proud to be White.”
The next morning, I went to school to be removed from that class and nearly suspended for the remainder of the year.
The harm in celebrating these months doesn’t come from showing pride in being gay, black, or whatever sets you apart. The harm comes in the double standard that it is near criminal for a young white man to even think about being proud for how he was born (unless he’s gay of course).
Now the anti-racists out there still scream, “Every other month is White Man’s Pride Month!”. And sure, that’s cool, but try saying “I’m proud to be White” and see what happens.
If we want to unite our nation, we need to stop celebrating our differences while learning to be tolerant of one another by embracing what unifies us a humans . . . namely compassion and love.
Now let’s get this month over with so we can celebrate the lives of Filipino Tilt-a-Whirl Operators in July!