I periodically read WhiteWhine--it's funny, but it's also capable of completely destroying any good opinion you may have of humanity, so I try to take it in small doses. Anyway, to celebrate of Black History Month, they have the obligatory selection of "Why isn't there a White History Month?" whines.
Putting aside the fact that these people are assholes, let's rephrase that question and take it a little more seriously: Why is there only Black History Month?
Or rather: Why is that you only hear about Black History Month? Because there actually are a lot of other heritage months and days and whatnot. But they definitely don't get the same kind of press.
Why is that?
Having worked for a multicultural educational publisher, I can reveal the reason to you. As you might imagine, it's an elaborate conspiracy, masterminded by this nation's most-celebrated secret society, The Illuminati! Yup: Jay-Z, Nicky Minaj, and Black History Month--we really are a full-service secret society!
The other reason? Black people buy Black history.
Yeah, that's the real reason. It's not guilt, or political correctness, or African Americans being "superior," or what have you. It's capitalism: African Americans identify as a group with a common heritage, there's a lot of them, they have money, and they don't mind spending it to learn about or to commemorate their history. And what do you know--Black History Month is a big success! There are books and TV specials and concerts and all kinds of things, because these things attract an audience.
Hispanic Heritage Month? Not so much. Women's History Month? Oh my God, if women bought women's history the way African Americans buy African-American history, multicultural educational publishers would be rolling in dough. But they don't.
German American Heritage Month--wait, that's a joke, right? I ask only because a good chunk of my family was Not German. You know about the Not Germans, right? Their ancestors came to this country before World War I from Saxony or Bavaria or Prussia or some place that was Not Germany. Once they came to this country, they called themselves Pennsylvania Dutch or just plain old Not German. When World War I rolled around they changed their names just to make sure everyone knew that they were really, really Not German. My father the amateur genealogist found it easier to handle the revelation that his family owned slaves than he did the revelation that his family's heritage was largely German. Let's just say that I'll be surprised if German American Heritage Month ever makes the kind of splash Black History Month does.
My point is, while it might make seem like a good idea to have a lot of heritage months (especially if you publish multicultural educational books), the fact of the matter is some groups will rally around such products, and others won't.
This is true for the wider world of genre, too. Some people really identify as readers of a particular genre--they read voraciously within that genre, and they even socialize around these books. It's why you have to go to the trouble of putting things into categories, even if you think genre categories are arbitrary and kind of stupid.
And it's why you have to market your book to the categories that already exist, even if that's a little tough to figure out. As Jaye Manus wrote, "[F]ocus your book description on what the readers are actually looking for." You don't want to find yourself stuck marketing "German Pride!" to a bunch of Not Germans (who might, however, buy a book about the Pennsylvania Dutch).