All too often, the question is asked: “Why can’t whites have White Entertainment History Pride Month?”
Let’s say there’s a house, and you live in it. It’s a majestic spread, the biggest and best on the block. In it resides a cloister of people dedicated to living in peace and harmony. Everyone has free reign of common areas such as the living room, kitchen, backyard and any of the several bathrooms. On top of that, everyone has their own luxurious bedroom.
Except for you. You have to live in the cellar. The cellar is dark, dank and decrepit, well beneath a decent standard of living. But you’re pretty much stuck in it, because anytime you dare to venture upstairs, your housemates are suspicious of, if not outright violent toward, you. Walk into their bathrooms and they’ll follow you, lest you steal some toiletries. Don’t even try to go into the bedrooms, because your kind isn’t welcome there. They don’t even want you in the kitchen, unless you’re making them sandwiches. You’re relegated to a mini-fridge, a hot plate and a bedpan in your cellar. (Though you are able to use the washroom, a privilege for which your housemates seem to expect constant back-pats.)
This despite the fact that you pay rent. Oh, do you ever pay rent! But most of your housemates see you as a leech because one time the stairwell in the cellar fell apart and everyone had to chip in to fix it. You’d move out if you could, but good bedrooms are hard for people like you to find. So you make do.
Because of all this, you wind up spending most of your time sitting in that cramped cellar. And you make it the best cellar anyone’s ever seen. It’s your sanctuary, where you can paint, write, perform, laugh, cry and pray in peace. Sometimes you invite over your similarly marginalized friends, and you all develop an intense cultural bond while reclaiming the dignity you’re denied everywhere else. Even the other residents can’t help but see and hear your efforts as they pass by your door. Sometimes they copy your style and try to pass it off as their own at house gatherings. Not that they invite you to those shindigs. That’s not your place.
It’s not fair, but you make the best of it. In fact, you do such a terrific job of it that pretty soon, your housemates are resentful. They wind up spending many sleepless nights pacing around their expansive living rooms and lengthy corridors and fully stocked kitchens and well-manicured yards grumbling, “Where’s MY cellar?!!”
Finally, one day you reply: “The reason I take pride in my cellar is because you banished me there, and I made it my own. You have the whole house, and that is why you don’t need a cellar.” To which they retort, “So why can’t I take pride in my space like you take pride in yours?”
“Because in my space, I can thrive amid the chaos of an unfeeling and hostile household. You want to be proud of having a giant house where you forced someone to live in the cellar.”
Does that answer the question?