We really didn’t need any more evidence that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Board of Education’s war on “wokeness” is actually only about assuaging white guilt and lying on behalf of American jingoism. But if we did need more evidence, we needn’t look any further than Florida’s approval of new standards for how Black history should be taught in the state’s public schools.
We’re not having it and neither is Kamala Harris.
According to a document listing the new standards posted on the board’s website, the new guidelines, which were approved Wednesday, require educators to teach that “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
Do y’all understand how white one would have to be to view American slavery as an institution where enslaved people benefitted from living and dying as the physical property of white people, having their future generations of children born into life-long servitude, having their heritage stripped away from them, being torn away from their families and working day and night for white people to profit off of their free labor—all because they may have learned to use a hammer properly in the process?
(Side note: Actually, it’s likely not just white people. Clarence Thomas probably thinks slavery was affirmative action done right. Candace Owens likely views the practice as a lifelong unpaid internship for Black go-getters. Jason Whitlock probably believes slavery physically prepared Black men for the NBA and NFL. Ben Carson probably wishes he could keep his eyes open for as long as enslaved people were conditioned to so they could work for free from dusk until dawn. Condoleeza Rice probably believes slavery taught Black people the value of reading and writing even if it literally killed them. OK, I’m, done.)
Wait, wait—when Kanye West said “slavery was a choice” he had probably just finished reading a Florida history book. OK, now I’m done.)
But Florida’s new standards for making Black history palatable for white consumption don’t stop there. The standards also take a Trump-like “very fine people on both sides” approach to teaching about race massacres in which mobs of white people attacked and brutally murdered Black people for fighting for equality and/or for simply existing.
When high school students learn about events such as the 1920 Ocoee massacre, the new rules require that instruction include “acts of violence perpetrated against and by African Americans.” The massacre is considered the deadliest Election Day violence in US history and, according to several histories of the incident, it started when Moses Norman, a prominent Black landowner in the Ocoee, Florida, community, attempted to cast his ballot and was turned away by White poll workers.
So, basically, Black people are complicit in perpetuating white violence by—*checks notes*—fighting for their lives, family, homes, and human rights. (All things they call white Americans patriotic heroes for doing.)
Activist groups including Florida’s statewide teachers union—the people who are actually responsible for educating Florida students—responded to Florida’s new “all slavery benefits matter” approach to teaching Black history by essentially telling the board’s members that their Klan robe slips are showing. (I’m paraphrasing of course.) A group of 11 organizations, including the NAACP, sent a letter to the board president slamming the decision, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
Hit the flip for Vice President Kamala Harris’ thoughts on the matter.
Kamala Harris Says Florida Slavery Lessons Are Attempt To “Gaslight Us”
On Thursday, Madam Vice President spoke at Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.’s 56th national convention in Indianapolis and denounced the new teaching as an “attempt to gaslight us.”
“Speaking of our children, extremists pass book bans to prevent them from learning our true history,” said Vice President Harris. “Book bans in this year of our lord 2023, and while they do this, check it out, they push forward revisionist history.
“Just yesterday, in the state of Florida, they decided middle school students will be taught that enslaved people benefitted from slavery. They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us and we will not stand for it. We who share a collective experience in knowing we must honor history in our duty in the context of legacy. There is so much at stake in this moment.”
Extremists are pushing forward revisionist history. They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, and we will not stand for it. pic.twitter.com/ipCXuGjWTw
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) July 20, 2023
Similarly, NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson is also having none of the Florida board’s White Revisionism 101 curriculum.
“Today’s actions by the Florida state government are an attempt to bring our country back to a 19th century America where Black life was not valued, nor our rights protected,” Johnson wrote in a statement. “It is imperative that we understand that the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow were a violation of human rights and represent the darkest period in American history. We refuse to go back. The NAACP has been fighting against malicious actors such as those within the DeSantis Administration for over a century, and we’re prepared to continue that fight by any means necessary. Our children deserve nothing less than truth, justice, and the equity our ancestors shed blood, sweat, and tears for.”