While the future of Florida’s Stop Woke Act is still up in the air, it likely will damage our education system as well as our democracy.
This act would rewrite history in ways that would make America unrecognizable and more divisive than ever.
At the core of what the bill represents is an attack on critical race theory (CRT), an academic term coined by several American legal scholars in the 1970s. It offers a race-conscious approach to learning and understanding systemic inequalities and structural racism.
The irony is completely lost on the politicians who are writing policies like the “Stop Woke Act” because they believe that instruction grounded in CRT is discriminatory towards white people. The term has been completely twisted and taken out of context to push a political agenda.
The bill would prohibit instruction not only on race relations but it would also diminish African-American contributions to literature, science, music, geography and the arts.
Unless students take a specialized class, they often do not get to learn about stories outside of the white, male experience. Women are rarely mentioned in history textbooks and the stories of the Black experience as it really happened are under constant threat.
It is particularly dangerous because it will not stop in Florida and it will threaten teachings on gender studies, women’s history, LGBTQ+ studies and many other diversity courses.
According to an EdWeek.org analysis, 44 states have introduced similar bills or other steps to limit the teaching of critical race theory and other such discussion of race, racism, and sexism. 18 have already enforced bans or restrictions through legislation or other avenues.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has already proposed another bill, popularly known by detractors as Don’t Say Gay, which forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for all grades in Florida.
A similar bill was passed in North Carolina this week which limits what teachers are allowed to discuss when it comes to race.
Classes that teach diversity, equity and inclusion are essential in creating an empathetic society and accurate view of our country’s history. Without this inclusive approach to teaching about our collective and varied experiences, we end up with a white, male expression of who we are as a country.
All Americans want to be free to share their stories, to be recognized and respected. “We The People” means all people, not just the ones that fit within certain parameters.
America has a dark and complicated past that cannot be ignored. The problem began as a racial issue and it has to be solved racially. Anyone who argues that they feel oppressed by critical race theory has missed the mark and still has a lot of work left to do.