Tomorrow is February 1st and with it comes Black History Month. Despite the best efforts of Republican Governor and 2024 presidential wannabe Ron “Kinky Boots” DeSantis that is still a fact. You can probably already see where I’m going.
A few days ago, DeSantis announced that Florida schools were not going to offer an AP Black History course. I find this disturbing on several levels.
While DeSantis seems to think he has achieved some sort of independent paradise in Florida, especially when it comes to education, little could be further from the truth. (Before you think I’m just a Florida basher let me state that I spent about ten of the most wonderful years of my life living in the Sunshine State. I have also vacationed there several times and my favorite sports team is the Tampa Bay Rays.) Thankfully I was not educated in Florida and education did not figure in the decision to move there as my wife and I were already empty nesters at that point. Some of Florida’s students choose to go to college elsewhere and taking away an AP opportunity from them just further disadvantages them when they have to compete with non-Floridians in the classrooms of elite colleges. Florida already ranks near the bottom in secondary education so no further retraction is necessary. If DeSantis really cared about the education of Florida’s youth, he would be working earnestly to increase the performance of Florida’s schools, not hiding the truth and real history (ugly though it may be).
I’m not sure if DeSantis is a racist; but he is openly pandering to the large racist segment of the Republican electorate. DeSantis, unlike some other GOP wannabes, is not stupid. The retort you will hear from many in his party’s base is: When is White History Month? The answer is every month! Slavery existed and the South largely built its economy on it. Black slaves built the White House that Mr. Kinky Boots aspires to live in.
In more recent history it was Black voter turnout that gave us Georgia Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock (twice) along with President Joe Biden. Not to get too preachy, but talk about deliver us from evil.
Politically DeSantis and his base supporters can’t afford Black history to be taught. In fact, to a large degree the truth is their enemy. Remember these are the same people who were against Common Core because of its emphasis on critical thinking skills. If young people develop critical thinking skills, they are highly unlikely to vote for Republicans. The promotion of ignorance is one of the pillars holding up the contemporary version of the GOP. It is really that simple.
I won’t get deeply into the cultural contributions that Blacks have made to America. My space and your time are limited. To this day they are being fought by the lies of the powerful. I simply offer Nikole Hannah-Jones as one example. If you want to be challenged yet entertained while celebrating Black History Month, I suggest you pick up a book by living Black writers Ta-Nehisi Coates or Colson Whitehead. Both have written books I expect will someday be considered classics.
Blacks helped built this country and make it great. If America is to continue on its quest to be a more perfect union Black Americans need to be a significant part of that effort. If America is to reach its potential a populous state like Florida certainly needs to be part of that quest not the peninsula of willful ignorance that DeSantis and his backers desire it to be!
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One thought on “Yes, We Need Black History Month”
The irony is that a hundred years ago, DeSantis would have been called a WOP and suffered discrimination because of his Italian ancestry.
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