By Diane Roberts
Ron DeSantis, pay attention: you really do not want Ben Crump suing you on behalf of three Florida high schoolers over that pilot AP African American Studies course you shut down.
Have you seen those kids? Clean-cut, All-American, telegenic. Have you heard Ben Crump? Smart, eloquent, relentless.
Crump gets on national TV more than you. He’s got a Netflix documentary. He’s got a social justice law center named after him.
Governor, we all know that you’ve stopped even pretending you’re not racist. Redrawing two formerly Black-led congressional seats so that whites would dominate, suppressing the Black vote, and appointing a white guy who apparently thought it was funny to dress up as a Klansman to the county commission of majority-Black Gadsden County, is what you call a “tell.”
I guess you figure you can win the White House with the white nationalist vote. The way this country’s going, that’s entirely possible. There are a lot of Caucasians out there convinced that women and Jews and gays and people of color are taking over America.
But pitching hissy fits about gay people, drag queens, and Black history ain’t a good look if you want to appeal to anyone outside the Fox swamp. RuPaul has one of the most popular shows in the nation.
And going to battle with cute kids and Ben Crump, who’s represented Trayvon Martin’s family, George Floyd’s family, and Breonna Taylor’s family, is a dumb plan. Even if Crump loses, he wins: You look like a jerk, a new generation of young voters sees that the Republican Party really doesn’t give a damn about them, and the nation is reminded once more that Jim Crow 2.0 is real.
You didn’t need to pick this fight over AP Black studies, governor. It’s an advanced placement class. Students choose to take it — or not. Nobody forces them, any more than anyone makes them sign up for AP European History.
Wait — aren’t you always banging on about “choice” when it comes to education?
Speaking of AP European History, have you had a look at that curriculum? It’s mostly about white folks, so I guess you’ll approve of that part. Nevertheless there are some disturbing topics: “Critiques of Capitalism,” “Colonial Expansion and Development of the Slave Trade,” and the like.
Man, it gets harder and harder to shut down all this woke stuff, doesn’t it? What’s a Viktor Orbán Fan Boy to do?
Other than destroy public education in Florida, of course. Your obliging Legislature is poised to take billions from public schools to give everybody a voucher for private schools, which are, conveniently, not subject to certain state standards.
I look forward to an entire generation of Floridians who think the sun revolves around the Earth.
In the meantime, you’ll content yourself with forcing local school superintendents out of office and replacing them with your minions. Now you’re after Leon County School Supt. Rocky Hanna, who’s “under investigation” by the Florida Department of Education for, well, it’s hard to tell. Something he said that one of the maggot-brained Moms for Liberty complained about.
Then there’s book-banning. One parent at one Pinellas County high school complained about Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” and now it’s verboten. Never mind that Morrison is a Nobel Laureate in literature. Never mind that the novel addresses profound issues of colorism, abuse, and how being Black in America can drive a person mad.
Other books deemed “harmful to minors” (as Florida’s education legislation puts it) include many, many titles by Black writers, Latino writers, Native American writers, LGBTQ writers, and any author who at any time refers to sex.
We need to preserve the innocence of teenagers.
Teachers can be charged with a third-degree felony if they’re caught with “unvetted” books in their classrooms. One Manatee County teacher wrote: “My heart is broken for Florida students today as I am forced to pack up my classroom library.”
In Duval County, a teacher had to stop giving her students free books, even though their families are too poor to buy their own.
We wouldn’t want these kids getting ideas, now, would we? Especially ideas about people of color or gay people or anyone who isn’t white, Christian, straight, and ignorant as a bag of sawdust.
We prefer these kids get guns. That’s America.
So, governor, if you won’t allow that AP African American Studies course because it dares to raise terrifying topics like Black feminism and queerness and even suggests students might benefit from discussing slavery reparations, why not create your own? Just in time for Black History Month, here’s a suggested model:
- Four hundred years ago, white people went to Darkest Africa, a continent populated mostly by gorillas and lions, and bought some Black people from some other Black people. It’s really the Black people’s fault, but white people always get blamed for just trying to make a little money.
- The white people took the Black people to America, where they got good jobs picking tobacco and cotton. The jobs were unpaid, kind of like internships, but the Black people got free food and free clothes, plus they didn’t have to pay rent. As a bonus, they converted to Christianity, which means they wouldn’t have to go to hell.
- The American Revolution happened, led by white people who didn’t believe in slavery even though a lot of them accidentally owned slaves. Our founders weren’t racist: Thomas Jefferson even dated a slave!
- Harriet Tubman ran the Underground Railroad, proving that Black women have a strong entrepreneurial spirit.
- In 1861, white people went to war to free the slaves and a lot of them died, though Black people never give them credit.
And, OK, the white people in Florida and those other Southern states (not that we’re admitting we’re part of the South, no sir) were on, like, the other side, but mostly because they hated Big Government and didn’t want their people-owning businesses to lose money.
- There was a thing called Reconstruction when we let Black men vote and even get elected to political office, but it didn’t pan out. Maybe Black people just weren’t ready to be citizens yet — not that we’re blaming anyone!
- A nice Black lady named Rosa Parks and a nice Black preacher named Martin Luther King teamed up to make riding the buses safe. Also help Black people vote, since they were probably ready to be citizens by the 1960s. Unfortunately, some white people didn’t like that, but they are all dead now, and we all want Black people to vote if they can do it right and not rely on “special treatment” like mail-in ballots, Sunday voting, drop boxes, and the like.
- Martin Luther King was a Republican.
- The Civil Rights Movement was admirable, and made for lots of good movies, but soon it was taken over by radicals who thought Black people should have rights as a group and started that bad, unamerican, affirmative action business. Black people got angry and yelled a lot, especially Malcolm X and Angela Davis.
- Barack Obama, a Black man who may or may not be an actual American citizen, got elected president, which means racism is over.
- No need to thank me, governor. And good luck with all those lawsuits.
Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books.
Doug Brown says
Flagler Live is so far left that you can’t even see right, besides that you’re totally NUTS. MY GOD I don’t understand why I keep you on my email listings.
Yet here you are. And you call them nuts? Haha
God bless Govenor Desantis!
Dennis C Rathsam says
So sick of Ms Roberts hit jobs on our governor….Floridians, through out Fl, voted for him in a landslide! She reminds me of cry baby Hillary! The democratic party is all but dead here in the FREE STATE OF FLORIDA. Wake up lady, dream all U want, we see what your party brings to the table. Inflation, the border crisis, spy balloons, & classified documents carelessly distrubuted everywhere!!!!! Bullshit the baker….get a bun! Bullshit me U get none.
Dennis is she lying about Desantis? You sound like you don’t want to hear anything bad about Desantis. Dennis he is a big Trump anti African American liar. Get mature and face reality.
James Murphey says
Whine, whine, whine.
All Republicans do is lie, cheat and steal.
Trump’s going to prison. America is sick of the line thieving crazy caucus Republicans.
Y’all see the writing on the wall and it ain’t pretty for the Republican party anymore so you have to try to suppress the vote, that don’t work now you’re trying to 1984 our history that ain’t going to work either.
What happened to your Red Wave? oh yeah, the American people drained the swamp….
Tired of it says
And the Republican plan to deal with inflation is what? Are you referring to the trove of secret documents that took a year to recover from trump? Wasn’t trump suppossed to have fixed the border? What exactly did he accomplish with the border?
Edith Campis says
Speaking of Chinese balloons…https://thehill.com/policy/defense/3844511-chinese-balloons-flew-over-us-three-times-during-trump-administration-officials/
Start listening to real news stations and not only Fox.
You can rest assured I did not. Nor will I ever vote for that man.
Florida faces huge environmental impacts, dying wildlife, exhorbitant property and auto insurance rates, rising seas, crumbling infrastructure, high gun violence, high domestic violence, poverty, school shootings and bomb threats. And DeSantis focuses on…. Drag queens. Does this add up?
Check out Thomas Sowells “true history of slavery”
Google Denzel Washington’s opinion of black suppression.
We need term limits! Only way to fix these ” claims ” of racism. The government doesn’t want it to go away.
Uggghhhh, another fine article by Diane Roberts.
Bravo! You hit the nail on the head every single time.
God bless you. You’re a treasure.
Somewhere, Molly Ivins, is reading you — smiling — and toasting you.
And thank you, FlaglerLive.
Russell A Smith says
Wow! You don’t like America’s Governor that’s for sure. Talk about leaning left, incredible! You should actually read and listen to our Governors opinions before commenting on them.
JOE D says
Not “MY” America’s Governor…..even though I need to put up with his unbelievable rulings, for the next 4 (opps, 2 years)…. Before your Good Ol’ Boy will be abandoning you to your unbelievable homeowners and car insurance rates, and unbelievably slow Disaster rebuilding money (oh yeah…..those $Billions coming from that “corrupt” Democrat led Senate and White House)
Don’t hear Scott suggesting Florida return all that massive Florida disaster aid in his speeches against “Wasteful Washington Spending “ in his weekly propaganda news letters too many Floridians believe without checking the facts!!!
Ed Pape says
Ms. Roberts why do you candy coat it? (Sarcasm) Your opinions and re-writing history are so far left that it’s hard to give your opinion any oxygen. Did you forget your Oxford education? No exams just open discussions with the professors, sharing ideas and opinions. Freedom of speech and truth. Was you degree honorary?
Your interpretation of our governor demonstrates that you are not any better than the “fox echo chamber”. Just 180 degrees away.
Open your mind to explore both sides and find the truth somewhere in the middle.
Did you ever meet DeSantis and have an open and honest discussion with him?
And finally, shame on you for purporting to know what’s in any one’s heart, accusing him of being a racist. You don’t know nor do I but at least I’m smart enough I don’t know. You follow an over worn play book, absent of any original thoughts.
“ at least I’m smart enough I don’t know” – sums you up perfectly ie you don’t have a clue.
What’s in anyone’s heart…genius
There are some Southerners who were taught racism at home, in segregated schools and in lily white church congregations of the largest Protestant denomination in America who, despite their entire cultural environment, came to recognize that racism is a sickness not unlike addiction. It yet pervades this Statr and others, not just the Old Confederacy, and is embraced by the base of the Republican Party, just as Richard Nixon intended. CRT is despised for exactly exposing that truth.
Kudos to you Miss Roberts for having the bravery to combat the b.s. that is in office and wear the b.s. that comments here. Desantis ran on “FL free”, but it isn’t. When you suppress what you don’t agree with, there is no freedom! My father was a racist person that voiced his rants upon my childhood, especially in football games: “look at that n%&^$# run”. My mother grew up super poor in the south and needed black neighbors for help when someone was sick or needed help. The south isn’t always represented as it was/is. She was outraged when we had to move to Alabama in the 70s and there were still “negro” water fountains and bathrooms at gas stations. She lost her mind when she travelled by bus and “negro” soldiers weren’t allowed to eat at a restaurant. How in the world they were a couple, I don’t know. But I listened, and I watched, and I looked. I took an African American studies class in college, which was largely based upon the Eyes on the Prize series. I learned so much and was angry that I didn’t know about this before. Freedom to Desantis isn’t! Drag shows…I’ve been and found those that are on stage are some of the bravest, most fearless, and most accepting people on God’s green earth! Desantis advocates for parental rights when it comes to what your child learns. I’m all for that, but when he suppresses the education of same sex parents as a normal family unit being taught in schools– my job is harder. I have to advocate to my child what is okay when our government says it isn’t. Just now the Catholic Church says it isn’t against the Bible to be gay– not that we needed them to say so, but conservative awakening can be helpful. I am a hermeneutic philosopher that believes I can never know unless I am that person. Without education, touching base with experts, and learning as much as I can– I can’t understand. For Bible thumpers- the books were chosen by a select group. There are stories that are out there,, but outside of the Bible. Don’t you want to know the truth, or different perspectives, or my point of view from my life? You could learn something, but Desantis supporters are more colonistic than learning and growing. I’m a lifelong resident of FL, but my nextdoor neighbor reaction to “let’s think this through”, has been: “you should just move if you don’t like it”. Quite the colonistic view, and that’s what I see in Desantis. Look to Iran and women’s rights….we are headed there. If you have a disagree with me that all voices are important and freedom means that even the “woke” get representation, then you are the racist problem that supports Desnatis and his regime– raping his constituents and their children of their rights to learn, lead, and be heard.
Yes, I too can’t stand the folks who always say “move if you don’t like it”. My mother tells me that too and says “well you left Florida so you can’t complain about how it is here”. Well y’know what? You had me in Florida. I’ve lived in Florida for decades. I’m set to inherit property in Florida unless she decides to kick me off of the will for being queer. How is my rights to a safe life as a citizen without having the state scrutinizing my medications somehow less valid than hers? Why is her view of Florida more correct than mine?
You brought me to tears! You have the right to be safe, you have the right to be valid, and you have the right to be you! This is the most honest and heart felt post here. You’re journey is a really tough one and every step forward seems to take two steps back with a politician like our governor in charge. We are moving forward, but I fear we won’t be at peace in our lifetime. I’ve learned that sometimes the best family is found without (you don’t get to choose family). The mentality doesn’t solve problems and doesn’t give freedom to its children. You are a step towards change and you aren’t along—one day….
argh! you aren’t alone– not along– darn it!
I’m sorry you believe that anyone is racist because they support any politician. Talk about a broad brush. Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to judge a book by its cover.
I’m tired of everyone or anyone who thinks so narrowly that they can group people by their political views.
Are there any original thinkers left our there? Or are we all dumbed down to the point we use sound bites and headlines to view our neighbors!
Oh, and I forgot to mention the link to our slavery (always there throughout history with a conquered group)- check out the red legs of Barbados and begin your journey into the injustices that led to American slavery. Also, check into Mary Postell and her journey via hell.
DeSantis has shown the country what a racist bigot he is.
Wow. I guess if you view the world through only the lens of racism then your perception is your reality.
I will say a prayer for all of us
Deborah Coffey says
So spot on that you managed to bring all the MAGAts in Flagler out from under their rocks. Would they even know Fascism if it jumped up and smacked them in their faces? No, they wouldn’t because they continue to vote for more fascists who, in the end, will take every freedom from them and their children that they have ever known. Those of us that are “woke” (meaning educated with “truth”) cannot and will not let the current Fascist movement get that far. Yes, we will even save the MAGAts from themselves.
Definition of woke is now educated with the truth…really?
If we don’t share the same opinion then we are fascist?
Yikes, I’m heading to the bunker now
The Geode says
I am black. I am conservative. I am tired of the pandering. Treat the others as your “lessers” and pets, but treat me with the respect and dignity you offer to your peers. I don’t need your pity. I don’t need your sympathy. I sure as hell don’t need you trying to think for me or lump me in with monolithic “group think”. We are individuals. Amazing how Hispanics, Asians, Indians, and every other group than white are ignored while blacks are considered your “sheep” needing to be shepherded. AMAZING!
I find your comment one of the best, although I’m not sure where your exasperation lies- with whites, with “wokes”, or who? It takes a village- meaning it takes all types, conservative included, to make a community. The problem here is with choice. If you burn a book or take it out of circulation, then I can’t choose to educate my child about it (good, bad, or ugly). If you take away the drag show, then I can’t educate my child as to why it is good or bad. Our governor is not my father or my mentor or my handler- so removing educational scenarios from our world robs me of the chance to educate my children. Isn’t that what every parent does? Monitor online activity, what is read, what is seen? That’s the freedom that I thought America is about> Take that educational moment away and I’ve lost the chance to educate my children with what I think is poignant. I don’t get to choose. That is the real problem. I can choose not to see a movie, not to read a bood, not to let my child take a class, and not to let my child see a museum exhibit. I can choose not to let my child learn about certain content…but those choices have to be there to make that decision. When they are taken away, then I’m left with no choices. I don’t think that is what America is about! You mentioned Indians, and I presume you mean American. They have the highest suicide rate of anyone in America– what can we do about that? Jews have been persecuted here in FL, I’m guessing that isn’t your mantra- so what do we do about it? Yes- all individuals, but don’t take away my familial rights to educate my family based upon what is heeded as “unacceptable”. I get to decide that– just like you do. I’m not conservative and I don’t go to church, but I’d be doing a disservice to my child if I didn’t support him/her in their choice to walk down that lane. If that choice is removed, then how do I help my child mitigate their path?? It takes a village, alternative lifestyles, and a heartfelt connection to supporting your family to make the village work!!
JT: An excellent perspective. Thanks!
Argh- I always forget something! Research the “Imagined Indian” and how media has shaped our ideas about native groups. It still stands today as a barrier to Indians stepping out of their stereotypes.
Great Read says
Thanks for writing this. It’s 100% spot on. My family up North is appalled at what we’ve been sending them from online. They want us to get out but moving isn’t cheap.
The reason there isn’t more outrage is it’s not being reported on the “Nightly” news shows. And I don’t mean CNN or MSNBC. I mean Lester Holt and David Muir. I know many people here who only watch those shows as their news for the entire day. They don’t watch local. They don’t read online. They watch those. The fascist actions in this state of mini-Orban, mini-Castro, mini-Hitler, however you refer to the man, need airing on repeat.
The latest book ban list came out and The Berenstein Bears is on it. Seriously? WTF is wrong with them? I grew up on those books. The hypocritical aspect of that book being banned – it questions belief (they find it) and it’s sold it Christian books stores. This whacked out Moms of Liberty group isn’t just bat poo crazy, they have an agenda. It doesn’t take much digging to follow the money and see who pays their bills. Same with LibsOfTikTok. She suddenly discovered Kinky Boots and is on a rampage. Also doesn’t take much digging to see who funds her either.
It’s all an agenda. The Family. The far right religious circles that engage in child trafficking and abuse yet are the first to throw giant boulders while their house is in shambles, held together by masking tape. It’s all about power, money and control. They don’t actually care about the things they say they care about. They don’t care about babies after they are born, it’s all about controlling a woman. They don’t care about the immigrant that needs help. The poor person suffering. The injured. The sick. The dying. These so-called religious zealots are exactly what Jesus hated. They ignore his teachings. They laugh at his compassion. He was the ultimate king of woke. He also wasn’t white. He was also bisexual. When people announce they are Christian, I slowly walk away because behind that declaration is a venomous bite, full of hate, and anger, and judgement. DeSantis is one of those fake Christians. He wants power. He wants money. He wants control. He has, short white man tiny hand syndrome. It really is a thing. It won’t work outside of Florida and it wouldn’t work in Florida if the messaging was better, more pronounced but they are terrified of reporting the truth and facts on him because he is a weak man that retaliates against people that speak the truth. That fear of him isn’t the mark of a good leader. It means he is overstepping his boundaries and becoming what the Cubans fled. He’s gone too far.
Free EBooks says
FYI – For all who actually want to read.
Brooklyn Library is giving FREE e-library cards for ages 13-21 to read ebooks from their library. I’d post the link but I’ve been censored every time, even using creative ways of posting.
Also Haymarket books is offering FREE ebooks on POC for all who want to read.
My ancestors fought fascism and I admire them. I stand with them. I am anti-fascist.
I don’t view anyone who supports a politician is racist. The definition is: characterized by or showing prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized. That is what is happening in FL. There is prejudice here. I maintain that there is something wrong when people support a politician who advocates to cancel education and certain entertainment presentations based upon detesting them for who/what they are about. That takes away a parent’s right to make educated decisions on behalf of their children. You don’t have to let your child take a class, you don’t have to buy a ticket and go to a show, and your neighbors don’t have to either. But when that choice is taken away by a politician when it isn’t because its breaking the law, and that politician’s supporters don’t cry fowl, then it is what it is. There are many Republicans in our US, like Mitt Romney, who I very much respect– it isn’t the party across the board, it is our governor.
“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.” – Muhammad Ali