What About Black Students' Discomfort?

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tags: Florida, culture war, teaching history, critical race theory

Of all the attempts around the country to coddle the snowflakes among us who can’t handle the reality that our shared history is equal parts noble and brutal, the “discomfort” bill in the Florida state legislature is the most idiotic.

The official name of the legislation, part of the bonkers “stop woke” agenda of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, is “Individual Freedom.” One of its provisions directs that classroom instruction not make any student "feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race.”

That protection from “discomfort,” of course, is a one-way street accessible only to White students. What about the unease Black students feel learning history that is sanitized or just plain incorrect? I know I’m going back some decades, but I’ll never forget the discomfort of being one of the few Black kids in a predominantly White school, especially during history class when slavery, the Civil War, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. or the civil rights movement would come up.

One teacher often had students read sections of the textbook aloud in class. No one ever saw my growing alarm as I realized that the (startlingly brief) section on slavery would be intoned by me. I could feel the eyes on me as I read aloud paragraphs that barely scratched the surface of the inhumanity visited upon my ancestors.

The Civil War was merely a costly conflict between North and South that resulted in the liberation of the slaves. And the civil rights movement, in retrospect, was discussed with an odd mix of admiration at how African Americans braved harrowing violence to push for the equality promised in the Constitution — and annoyance at how they disrupted the status quo by doing so. Mostly, though, Black people and our foundational contributions to this country were downplayed or ignored.

Anyway, back to that Florida bill. While it says educators “may facilitate discussions and use curricula” to teach about things such as slavery, racial oppression and racial discrimination, the flawed measure includes a big ol’ “but.” It says that “classroom instruction and curriculum may not be used to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view inconsistent with the principles of this subsection or state academic standards.”

“Indoctrinate or persuade” is a giant loophole that could potentially lead to banning anything that twinges the fragile sensibilities of those who can’t handle confronting the truth or being intellectually challenged. 

Read entire article at Washington Post

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