Florida Proves My Point

I have repeatedly communicated my conviction that racism is the root cause of America’s polarization. That root cause may be exacerbated by the other issues we address, but eventually, the racist roots become too obvious to ignore.

That the Republican war on “woke” is a barely-veiled attack on racial and gender equity has been fairly obvious for some time. In Ron DeSantis’ Florida, the determination to rewrite history and privilege White Supremacy has become impossible to ignore.

As the irreplaceable Heather Cox Richardson has explained,

The Florida Board of Education approved new state social studies standards on Wednesday, including standards for African American history, civics and government, American history, and economics. Critics immediately called out the middle school instruction in African American history that includes “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” (p. 6). They noted that describing enslavement as offering personal benefits to enslaved people is outrageous.

But that specific piece of instruction in the 216-page document is only a part of a much larger political project. 

Taken as a whole, the Florida social studies curriculum describes a world in which the white male Founders of the United States embraced ideals of liberty and equality—ideals it falsely attributes primarily to Christianity rather than the Enlightenment—and indicates the country’s leaders never faltered from those ideals. Students will, the guidelines say, learn “how the principles contained in foundational documents contributed to the expansion of civil rights and liberties over time” (p. 148) and “analyze how liberty and economic freedom generate broad-based opportunity and prosperity in the United States” (p. 154).

The new guidelines emphasize that slavery was common around the globe. Worse, “they credit white abolitionists in the United States with ending it (although in reality the U.S. was actually a late holdout).” They teach that slavery in the U.S. was really an outgrowth of  “Afro-Eurasian trade routes” and that the practice “was utilized in Asian, European, and African cultures,” –with emphasis on  “systematic slave trading in Africa.”

Then the students move on to compare “indentured servants of European and African extraction” (p. 70) before learning about overwhelmingly white abolitionist movements to end the system.

In this account, once slavery arrived in the U.S., it was much like any other kind of service work: slaves performed “various duties and trades…(agricultural work, painting, carpentry, tailoring, domestic service, blacksmithing, transportation).” (p. 6) (This is where the sentence about personal benefit comes in.) And in the end, it was white reformers who ended it.

Richardson notes that Florida’s Rightwing curriculum presents human enslavement as just one type of labor system, “a system that does not, in this telling, involve racism or violence.”

Indeed, racism is presented only as “the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping on individual freedoms.” This is the language of right-wing protesters who say acknowledging white violence against others hurts their children, and racial violence is presented here as coming from both Black and white Americans, a trope straight out of accounts of white supremacists during Reconstruction (p. 17). To the degree Black Americans faced racial restrictions in that era, Chinese Americans and Japanese Americans did, too (pp. 117–118).

Those who constructed this curriculum evidently had a problem fitting the violence of Reconstruction into their whitewashed version of U.S. history so, according to Richardson, they didn’t bother. They simply included a single entry in which an instructor is told to “Explain and evaluate the policies, practices, and consequences of Reconstruction (presidential and congressional reconstruction, Johnson’s impeachment, Civil Rights Act of 1866, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, opposition of Southern whites to Reconstruction, accomplishments and failures of Radical Reconstruction, presidential election of 1876, end of Reconstruction, rise of Jim Crow laws, rise of Ku Klux Klan)” (p. 104). 

There’s more, and you really need to click through and read the post in its entirety, but Richardson sums up this educational travesty with a powerful indictment:

All in all, racism didn’t matter to U.S. history, apparently, because “different groups of people ([for example] African Americans, immigrants, Native Americans, women) had their civil rights expanded through legislative action…executive action…and the courts.” 

The use of passive voice in that passage identifies how the standards replace our dynamic and powerful history with political fantasy. In this telling, centuries of civil rights demands and ceaseless activism of committed people disappear. Marginalized Americans did not work to expand their own rights; those rights “were expanded.” The actors, presumably the white men who changed oppressive laws, are offstage. 

And that is the fundamental story of this curriculum: nonwhite Americans and women “contribute” to a country established and controlled by white men, but they do not shape it themselves. 

That is the “fundamental story” that MAGA folks want American children to believe. Anything else is “CRT.”


  1. To repeat something I wrote a few days ago, we need to stand up for the truth as if our lives depend on it because they do. Becoming disconnected from reality is a fatal condition.

  2. American slavery was the WORST because it was the first to enslave human beings based solely on race and was generational based upon the mother’s enslavement in a patriarchal society where wealth and freedom passed only to and through men. Thus, every white man was free to rape enslaved women without any risk of of creating free men or legitimate heirs.

  3. The Florida Abomination in Education came directly from Governor DeSantis leadership and his “war on woke”. He cannot be permitted to walk away from this. His statement supporting what the education department did is uncontroverted proof of the fact that he is unfit for public service, especially the Presidency. He is a reincarnation of Governor Wallace. I hope Black leaders such as LeBron James and Kareem Abdul Jabbar can lead a boycott of young black men away from the Universities in Florida. If the stream of athletes making those Universities successful on the football fields and in the basketball arenas dries up, maybe Florida will sober up and reverse its racist policies. Such a boycott will “hit them where it hurts”, i.e. in their pride. Money won’t influence DeSantis and his enablers, 0-11 in football will.

  4. How often and in how many states and blogs and books and history is it going to take to make believers of racists who are the targeted audience for this subject? Here’s a newsflash for all of you; the racists aren’t hearing or reading these messages.

    “That the Republican war on “woke” is a barely-veiled attack on racial and gender equity has been fairly obvious for some time.”

    The majority of us on this blog are of the older generation who were taught the basics of slavery; what wasn’t stressed was the slavery in northern states, such as Indiana, where slavery was outlawed but was practiced by the very lawmakers who wrote the laws. They also enslaved free blacks by selling them into indentured servitude. The biographical book, “Twelve Years A Slave”, by Solomon Northrup tells his story of kidnapping in New York and sold into slavery in the south. Blacks for generations have denied the fact that some slave owners did provide decent living situations for their purchased slaves; Mr. Northrup speaks to this issue in his book. They were in some cases treated decently just as the slave owners’ livestock were because they were the primary source of income. It didn’t lessen the inhumanity of slavery but is being taught to younger generations as being beneficial to blacks; few whites as indentured servants were afforded such treatment in the MAGA teachings of slavery today.

    Read “Black in Indiana” by Eunice Brewer Trotter for a well researched picture of slavery and indentured servitude of blacks by lawmakers in Indiana history.

  5. It’s a cause for concern that oligarchs hold sway over the rewriting of history, especially as the reparations movement gains momentum. Our children are being fed a distorted view of history, and it’s unacceptable. Why aren’t teachers protesting this?

  6. I would like to return to an earlier blog on the issue of Artificial Intelligence (AI); if any of you watched Joy Reid’s broadcast last night you will see it is a frightening new enemy on the political horizon. Joy was contacted by her cousin over this past weekend about “her” interview touting gummy weight loss products; she was totally unaware of the post because she has never been interviewed about the product, nor has she ever used gummy weight loss products yet it was her picture and her voice. She posted the complete advertisement to show the reality of the cloning by AI culprits. Artificial AI is cloning pictures and voices and posting false political support among other issues; Joy showed one post of DeSantis using Trump’s cloned voice and Hillary Clinton cloned in an ad for DeSantis.

    How are we to discern the real from the unreal in these vital election years which will decide the future of America and all Americans? Will we retain democracy, Rule of Law and uphold the Constitution of the United States of America or will we become victims of Trump’s autocratic control and the completion of his deconstruction of our government and our nation and, in effect, enslaving all Americans?

  7. Todd,

    If teachers protest too much, they will be fired. There are plenty of incompetent racist idiots waiting to take over in the classrooms because they can’t find work elsewhere. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    It is, in my opinion, that the onus lies with the 70% of rational people in Florida and elsewhere to overcome and oust these ideological morons who are feeding the bullshit by the shovel-full to the 30% who simply can’t let go of their hatred, bigotry, self-service, fears, self-imposed grievances and abject ignorance.

  8. As I noted yesterday, the Florida Universities are having difficulty in attracting top researchers. One thing that all universities count on is Federal research dollars (NIH, DoD, USDA and others) flowing in to support faculty, staff, and building cutting edge facilities. If we could add to that, Robert’s idea of a Black boycott of Florida athletic programs, this would end much more quickly.

    Until then, Lord Jesus, save us from your followers!

  9. Vernon,

    We’ll have to wait until the Democratic Party abandons its love affair with the oligarchy as well. Based on the D.C. lobbying (bribery), it won’t happen anytime soon. Voters will never be given the power to make the real changes required.

  10. WADR, this idea of driving racism out by having Black athletes not go to FL colleges is implicit racism at its worst. You are implying that all Blacks are good for is athletics and that sports (one of our leading “amusements” distracting us from real life) is critically important for our society.

  11. I find it mind boggling that the people of Florida are so blind to the realities of their lives. They voted for and apparently continue to support a truly ignorant man who is making war across the country against the very culture that sustains Florida’s economy. Meanwhile, as their governor campaigns for president, his state is drowning under the waters of global warming, the state struggles to re-build after a horrific hurricane last summer, insurance companies flee for better environs, and sensible people to the north are saying, “I wouldn’t vacation there, much less buy there for all the tea in China.”

  12. More people are moving into FL than any other state right now. P.T. Barnum said it best…

  13. I admit I don’t have any children to speak of and have no plans for children given today’s society. However, I do worry for children and what is being left for them. I don’t want to tell children what to think or believe I just want to support their health. So caring for the environment they live in, caring about the choices or lack of choices they will have. I’m not here to “brainwash” kids. Just because a person is a liberal and an educator or a conservative and an educator doesn’t mean they are feeding your child propaganda. Personally, if you want to send your child to a Christian school that’s your choice. But if people want to send their kids to a Buddhist school or a Pagan school I don’t care. I’m not here to “police” people’s beliefs. I’m here to support diversity and nonviolence and including people in society. Even the racists. Do I agree with your beliefs? No I don’t. Your allowed to hate whom you want. What your NOT allowed to do is strip people of their human rights and be violent.

  14. Lester, this article uses stats from 2020 and 2021. Not quite up to date, certainly not valid since the hurricane and DeSants’s presidential run and his war on woke. A lot happened in Florida during 2022 and thus far into 2023.
    I stand by my post.

  15. It would not have occurred to me to use an ad for a moving company as the basis of my assertions about people moving.

  16. Theresa – they are the ones doing the moving. Why would they care to “fix” the stats???

  17. I read Richardson’s excellent piece, and can’t agree with it more.
    What DeFascist is doing in my home state is gaslighting on a cultural
    level, just what the MAGA crowd eats up, and the oligarchs love to
    feed them.
    It has been something of a pleasure to watch his campaign falter so
    abominably. I just hope he can’t find a way to run for Gov’r again.
    I have read that since Showtime choose not to show their damning
    piece that highlighted his gross meanness and cruelty while at Guantanamo, efforts
    are under way to have it put out elsewhere.

  18. The fight against the sexualization of children is real. The problem with politicians is they ignore the value of some in their voices and don’t get a bipartisan approach to appeal to all involved DeSantis won by nearly 20%, and that makes one feel comfortable. But no one can rest if their political plots to rewrite history go ignored. To say there is a benefit to slavery is no more than a dogwhistle to those that are wholeheartedly in a righteous fight to end racial inequality.
    Calling the US a holdout isnt historically correct just as much as CRT has made so many unforced errors in its approach in its regard to history and ideology.
    The Democrat South has always rejected the truth of the constitution that all men have inalienable rights given by God. The problem with the left is thst they have fallen prey to the woke crowd. The division is drawing more neutral and moderately minded people away as science decries the claims of the necessity of uouth to go through transitions before adulthood. So says many psychologists thst are finding the misinformed populace as surrendering the reality that many go through lifetime harmed by an adolescent transition.
    Republicans who brought the inequity of race to the forefront in the 1840s must return to fightbin a much more strategic way by embracing the needs of the black community.
    The current President and hos government are printing more money than ever, this harms yhe black community and its ability to pull itself out of the financial inequities or contemporary financial slavery. The policies that create inflation are in full swing as yhe government is continuing to print money to pay for its abuses. Here is a graph of the fed. The fed has raised rates, why? To slow the inflationary economy created by liberal spending politicians that enslave all of us, but especially the black community!

  19. Who is Dr. William B Allen and Dr Francis Presley Rice? They are two black scholars that helped write the curriculum for Florida. DeSantis should have them front and center when signing the curriculum bill for Florida and have them take suggestions from the black community on the curriculum. Read the curriculum for yourself and make suggestions. But again it is the politicization that continues to polarize this country which unfortunately some want.

  20. John S

    I myself have not “fallen prey” to the woke crowd just because I leave gay people alone and let them live their lives in peace when they aren’t harming anyone. Historically, it has been certain religions and governments that “persecute” these people needlessly. Simply being gay does not make you a sex offender/sexual predator out to harm and sexualize children. In fact, many gay men and women have kids now and those kids are probably being hurt right now by the people who choose to judge/hurt their parents simply for loving each other.

  21. Hope it hasn’t been mentioned before but reading this most interesting book concerning the racism this country is built on. It brings about a direct connection to current affairs as history repeats itself, especially concerning politicians and how citizens were manipulated to support a racist agenda by highly unsavory people posing as moral leaders. Highly recommend “A Fever in the Heartland” by Timothy Egan. The Klan and it’s Hoosier leader D. C. Stevens is all based on corroborated events.

  22. For the above post meant to say D. C. Stephenson, who built the Klan from Irvington Indiana until his sordid downfall.

  23. This is what it is, Sheila. This is what it has always been. Subjugation of another group of people to benefit white men. Capitalism is built on subjugating a group of people for the benefit of another. Until we can bring ourselves to say it out loud and confront it, we cannot heal.

  24. I participated in a five week seminar entitled Colonial Slavery (shortened title) sponsored by the National Endowment for Humanities in 2000. I read five books by scholars including Philip Morgan and Ira Berlin and attended lectures by African Americans on various topics. The slavery I learned about in school was just a drop in the historical bucket. The importance of understanding slavery in its early years is critical to a knowledge of the skills base many brought – including carpentry, rice culture, and farming of products unknown the the colonies. I shared this knowledge with my students when I was teaching various literature in grades 9-12, including Beloved. We must be open to learning about the past, filling in where our own education is lacking. Learning can not be static.

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