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At this point, it seems like Republicans, especially the ones in the reddest states in America, wake up every morning with one agenda on their minds: Destroy all so-called “wokeness” in education.

They started with their propaganda-based war on critical race theory, which they twisted from an academic study examining racist systems in America to an umbrella term for everything race-related that flared up white people’s chronic fragility. But that wasn’t enough, because CRT doesn’t include things like gender studies and queer studies. So, they began their war on “woke,” which they distorted from a Black vernacular term meaning “aware of white supremacy” to an umbrella term for literally everything they don’t like.

Meet Mississippi State Auditor Shad White, who, uh, certainly lives up to his surname.

He and his office have proposed cutting state funding for college degrees such as African American studies and women and gender studies. White, who, again, is the epitome of what his last name suggests, appears to be pretending that he’s not trying to nix funding for these degrees because the “wokeness” gives his white male fragility the hillbilly heebie-jeebies. According to a report released Wednesday, he wants to get rid of these and other degrees that “produced graduates who were not paid well and did not usually work in Mississippi after leaving college.”

“Some programs—like Women’s Studies, African American/Black Studies, German Language and Literature—placed so few graduates in Mississippi jobs that analysts could not calculate a statistically significant median salary for those graduates,” the report states. “Yet the state invests just as much, per student, in these programs as in Electrical Engineering or Registered Nurse programs.”

So, are we supposed to pretend that it’s not extremely telling that on the list of degrees White’s office says are worthless, Women’s Studies and Black Studies are right there at the top? This is, after all, the same state where Black lawmakers walked out of a legislative vote over Mississippi’s congressional obsession with banning CRT because they say it teaches that some races are superior to others, which it does not.

This is the same state where the attorney general, Lynn Fitch—who advocated for the release of a cop who was convicted of beating a Black man to death— threatened Target in a letter claiming the company “wittingly marketed and sold LGBTQIA+ promotional products to families and young children as part of a comprehensive effort to promote gender and sexual identity among children” during Pride month. 

It just seems like the Republican officials in Mississippi hate everything that might inspire people to think critically about racial issues, or cause*gasp*acceptance and even the celebration of the queer community.

Hell, while we’re at it, Mississippi is the state where Black people are still getting lynched, cops are still torturing Black people for dating white women, cops are bragging about how many times they “shot that n*****r” and Black people are suing the state’s police department because “Jim Crow never left.” Mississippi doesn’t just have a racism problem, it has an old-school Reconstruction-era-type racism problem. I’m just suggesting that maybe the state where Emmett Till was lynchedand where legal officials still refuse to pursue justice for his killingisn’t the state that should cut funding for African American Studies.

Anyway, if the report wasn’t telling enough, White certainly told on himself in a tweet where he referred to these degrees as “garbage fields.”

“Degrees in garbage fields are terrible for students,” White posted on the social media app formerly known as Twitter. “Kids graduate with debt they can’t repay. It’s the reason U.S. student debt has doubled in the last 20 years. Degrees in garbage fields are also bad for the economy. They produce graduates who offer no real skills.

“You know who loves degrees with cheap professors who specialize in sexual identity or urban stand-up comedy? Universities. They can run these programs for nothing. It’s way cheaper to send you through sociology than aerospace engineering. If you sign up for one of these useless majors, “I call that getting tricked by a business,” to borrow a phrase.

“But by all means, go take that Latinx Environmental Justice class in Urban Studies. Just don’t ask taxpayers to pay for it.”

Again, if this isn’t about his white and fragile hatred for non-white and non-heteronormative studies, why is it that race-based studies, “urban” studies and “sexual identity” studies are the first thing he specifies for the chopping block?

By the way, the reason for the steep increase in student loan debt has been studied to death. Most reports put it on the general increase in tuition, but also the increase in the number of borrowers, higher average amount borrowed, lower rate of repayment, and changes in the types of colleges attended. None of these studies put the increase on the type of degrees being earned.

But that doesn’t matter because that’s not what this is about. This is, as usual, about white conservative control. It’s not about what’s right, it’s about what’s, well, White. 


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