At this point, we really don’t need more evidence that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the members of his state’s Department of Education are hiding pure, unadulterated racism behind an anti-critical race theory narrative that is reliant on propaganda meant to placate white fragility. We know that DeSantis’ relentless anti-woke agenda isn’t just about eliminating the college-level academic study—it’s about doing away with all teachings that make white people uncomfortable and fail to promote America as a mecca of freedom and nobility.
This is why it’s not terribly surprising that Florida’s Department of Education has rejected an Advanced Placement course covering African American Studies because it “significantly lacks educational value.”
On Monday, DeSantis was resolute in the face of criticism and defended his move to ban the course.
He claimed that elements of the course were permeated with “radical” political perspectives that failed to capture the spectrum of black public opinion on several issues, including criminal justice.
DeSantis highlighted course materials that he said advocated for the abolition of prisons.
“It’s not fair that to say that somehow abolishing prisons is somehow linked to black experience, that’s what black people want,” he said. “I don’t think that’s true at all. I think they want law and order, just like everyone else wants law and order.”
He also questioned the incorporation of “queer theory” into the course syllabus.
“When you try to use black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes,” he said.
Obviously, there’s no reason to be shocked when a bunch of conservative white people can’t find value in an African American studies course. It’s even less surprising that the reasoning given for why the course is valueless is as vague as it could possibly be—because it’s not like they can come right out and say, “We’re racist AF and Black history hurts our little melanin-less feelings.”
“As submitted, the course is a vehicle for a political agenda and leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material, which we will not allow,” Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’ press secretary, said, according to NPR.
OK, what does that even mean? What are these “large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled” in reference to? Because it sounds like Florida’s education department has rejected the course, not because of what it teaches, but because of what the department is afraid it might teach. It’s almost as if focusing on African American studies, in and of itself, is the problem. (But nah, that couldn’t be—because that would just be plain old, garden-variety racism.)
Also, I just wish these cowards would admit that their war against CRT is completely ideology-based and that they’re a bunch of hypocrites for rejecting any course because they perceive it to be shrouded in “ideological material.”
For example, in Missouri, Republican lawmakers are considering new legislation that would prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in public K-12 schools and require teachers who have been found to teach the study to participate in a training program on American patriotism.
Setting aside the fact that, according to CNN, Missouri’s “largest teachers’ union says the concept is not presently a part of schools’ curricula” in the state—the fact is, these GOP legislators are just trying to trade what they perceive as CRT ideology for their own ideology based on jingoism and American exceptionalism. So, the issue isn’t ideology, it’s about what they believe to be the wrong ideology.
In fact, much like DeSantis and other right-wing propagandists like him, Missouri’s state bill characterizes CRT as a course that teaches that “individuals of any race, ethnicity, color, or national origin are inherently superior or inferior and that individuals, by virtue of their race, ethnicity, color, or national origin, bear collective guilt and are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by others.” CRT teaches none of those things. It’s just an academic framework about how institutional racism affects the law and other institutions that have been around since Black people were legally considered second and even third-class citizens. (*gestures widely toward the vast majority of America’s existence*)
But, according to NPR, scholars and education workers who were involved in the development of the AP African American Studies curricula say the course doesn’t even get that deep.
“There’s nothing particularly ideological about the course except that we value the experiences of African people in the United States,” Christopher Tinson, the chair of the African American Studies department at Saint Louis University, told NPR.
The purpose of the class is to introduce students to the experiences and contributions of African Americans through a variety of lenses.
“We didn’t want to just focus on slavery, although slavery is a part of it,” Tinson said. “We wanted to give a comprehensive view of the culture, literature, historical development, political movements, social movements.”
Tinson said the course will explore the origins of the African diaspora to Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights movement, and then some. It will also examine historical trailblazers like Valerie Thomas, a scientist who invented the illusion transmitter.
He is particularly excited for students to have a fuller grasp of the Haitian revolution, which Tinson argues tends to be underrepresented in history classes compared to the American and French revolutions despite being the most successful slave revolt in world history.
Tinson denied that CRT was being taught in the course, not because CRT is wrong, but because it’s too advanced for high school students even in a college-level course.
Still, Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. insists that the course is all about CRT because it includes, for example, teachings on “intersectionality,” which a graphic Diaz tweeted defines as “foundational to CRT” and a concept that “ranks people based on their race, wealth, gender and sexual orientation—which only proves that, much like CRT, conservatives have no idea what “intersectionality” refers to.
“Florida rejected an AP course filled with Critical Race Theory and other obvious violations of Florida law,” Diaz captioned the tweet. “We proudly require the teaching of African American history. We do not accept woke indoctrination masquerading as education.”
Apparently, they have no problem accepting white nationalism masquerading as anti-wokeness.
At the end of the day, neither Black history nor African American studies can be taught without highlighting white supremacy, because everything we achieved throughout history was achieved while we were under the heel of a white supremacist nation.
In other words: We really can’t celebrate our culture or legacies without eventually hurting white feelings—and that’s why Florida rejected the AA studies curriculum. It’s that simple and plain.