Friday, January 20, 2023

Circling the White Supremacist Wagons

I have three responses to the news that Florida is blocking the teaching of the AP African American Studies class in school.

  1. This is completely unsurprising. Of course a government that is overtly white supremacist would want to bury the teaching of the histories of BIPOC people. It’s a threat to their entire worldview that the only history is white history. This is the story we have lived in this country for most of our existence.
  2. We can’t let that lack of surprise steal our outrage at this.
  3. Florida schools do not teach history. They teach propaganda. This is Don’t Say Gay Part 2.

I was a history major in college, and the absolute best classes I took were in the Chicano Studies, Asian American Studies, and African American Studies departments. Why? Because this was all new information for a white kid who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s. We were the generation that was taught that not all slave masters were cruel and that most of the time they were benevolent and the slaves were happy to be cared for; that the Indians and the settlers really mostly got along after the First Thanksgiving; and – nothing – about the internment of Japanese Americans and the racist exclusion acts that kept Asian immigration shut down for the first half of the 20th century.

And you know what? DeSantis is correct to be worried about how this will change the kids to whom it is taught. Because it explodes the myth of white American exceptionalism. It makes you re-evaluate what you have been taught and seek to make changes in your life because this shit is not okay (h/t Andre Henry). It makes you join the struggle to put Martin Luther King’s beloved community into practice.

Each of these things undermines the white supremacist power structure. So of course, like any good authoritarian ideology, they seek to ban it.