Burying history to protect white people’s feelings won’t work

Ron DeSantis and his GOP allies are pushing a bill in the Florida legislature that would prohibit public schools and private businesses from teaching or training about racism in ways that make white people squirm.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis listens to a reporter’s question during a press conference at NeoCity center in Kissimmee, Fla., Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing legislation that takes aim at how history and racism are taught in public schools and even by private businesses.

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Those poor, wittle babies.

Their feelings are hurting. Some poor, wittle white people are uncomfortable about the hundreds of years of racism and hate that built this nation.

Ron DeSantis, the famously infamous Republican governor of Florida, wants to relieve white Americans from any “discomfort” they may feel about our nation’s racist past — and present.

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DeSantis and his GOP allies are pushing a bill in the Florida legislature that would prohibit public schools and private businesses from teaching or training about racism in ways that make white people squirm.

The measure, approved last week by the Florida Senate Education Committee, is rooted in the national hysteria over “critical race theory.”

According to Wikipedia, critical race theory “is a cross-disciplinary intellectual and social movement of civil rights scholars and activists who seek to examine the intersection of race and law in the United States.”

Our history must be viewed through the prism of race. Our nation is gripped by structural and systemic inequities stemming from racism, America’s original sin. If we don’t acknowledge and address it, white people will remain dominant and people of color will continue to be oppressed.

Conservatives view that argument as Marxist and divisive. Or, as DeSantis recently said, “crap.”

The “Original Freedom” bill reads, in part: “An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex. An individual should not be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race.”

The measure would also prohibit workplaces and schools from providing training or instruction that “espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels” people to believe they have “responsibility for, or should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex or national origin.”

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Some condemn the proposal, arguing it will lead to frivolous lawsuits and censorship. Florida Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat and vice chair of the Senate Education Committee, told CNN the measure aims to revise history.

“This isn’t even a ban on critical race theory. This is a ban on Black history,” said Jones, an African American. “They are talking about not wanting white people to feel uncomfortable? Let’s talk about being uncomfortable. My ancestors were uncomfortable when they were stripped away from their children.”

And shackled, enslaved, lynched, murdered and oppressed for hundreds of years.

DeSantis is a rising national political star who may run against Trump in 2024 if the former president mounts a re-election bid.

To decipher Florida’s conservative craziness, I checked in with my friend Richard Strell. The Miami Beach native is a Democrat and keen DeSantis-watcher.

The proposed law is “ridiculous,” he said, and exposes DeSantis’ “racist philosophy.” DeSantis is trying to sow division for political gain.

“This has been the approach of Trump,” Strell said. “And DeSantis is following in his footsteps. And they see raising race in those, sort of, veiled ways helps them get votes.”

Strell is white. So I asked him if learning about our history gives him the heebie-jeebies.

“I think racism is a part of our history and acknowledging mistakes that our country has made,” he said. “And trying to rectify it makes us a better country. So I don’t take it personally … that this happened, because it did. And why bury it? It didn’t work before.”

It won’t work now.

Nothing personal, but I don’t give a whit if white people are uncomfortable with the truth that their America was built on a racist foundation.

Get over it, and help tear it down.

Laura S. Washington is a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a political analyst for ABC-7/Chicago. Follow her on Twitter @mediadervish

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