gov desantis anti critical race theory event in miami from april 2022
RESTRICTIONS ON DISCUSSING RACE — In the company of children from Mater Academy Charter Middle/High School in Hialeah Gardens earlier this year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis celebrates signing into law House Bill 7, the “Individual Freedom” bill. It bans educators from teaching about certain topics if they skew too close to what the state has defined as “critical race theory,” a phrase commonly used to describe teachings about the systemic effects of racism. Our commentary writer says DeSantis has spent too much time on legislation that fuels cultural division, and too little time addressing Floridians’ real problems, such as infrastructure, affordable housing and property insurance. PHOTO COURTESY FLORIDA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE

Editor, The Beacon:

Gov. Ron DeSantis promised “woke” would die in Florida. When I first heard that I wondered, “What is woke?” I’d never heard of “woke,” but it must be bad if the governor wants to kill it.

Researching, I discovered “stay woke” was first used in the 1930s in Black communities. It was a warning to be aware of racial discrimination and prejudice. Today, “woke” has expanded beyond the Black community to other minority groups, like the LGBTQ+ and transgender communities.

DeSantis’ attack on Floridians’ awareness of discrimination and prejudice has been nothing short of spectacular. Following the autocrat’s playbook, DeSantis authorized a policy to ban books about racial and gender awareness.

Students in grades K-12 are not allowed to hear or read about sex and gender. Courses that mention slavery cannot teach about the horrific aspects of that institution. Those facts are replaced with the distortion that enslaved people were taught job skills. Reading and writing, the most important job skills, were banned for the enslaved. Is teaching that ban banned by DeSantis’ law?

Colleges cannot teach awareness courses like race and ethnic studies. Nor can they spend money on awareness programs about diversity, equity or inclusion.

DeSantis’ overhaul of New College created chaos, over a third of the faculty left, and students are unable to take classes needed to graduate.

Again, digging into the autocrat’s playbook, DeSantis targeted businesses that refused to endorse his anti-awareness agenda. DeSantis blocked state funding for a Tampa Bay Rays training facility as punishment for tweeting about gun violence.

After Disney criticized DeSantis’ law to ban gay awareness, he replaced their board of directors with his own appointees. While they lacked the power to ban the content of Disney productions, they did abolish Disney’s awareness programs on diversity, equity and inclusion.

DeSantis understands authoritarians don’t limit themselves to destroying awareness of cultural issues. The hiring of Ben Sasse to head the University of Florida was conducted in secrecy.

Donors and even Florida tax dollars funding DeSantis’ presidential bid are shrouded in secrecy.

Democratic leaders do not ban books. Democracies do not distort their history and attack their minority populations. Democracies do not hide how they spend the public’s money. Those are things authoritarians do.

Sam Sloss



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