(Todd A. Smith)
Poet Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. People know themselves much better than you do. That’s why it’s important to stop expecting them to be something other than who they are.”
With that said, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is a racist.
Sure, he’ll disagree.
Sure, his supporters will disagree.
But the proof is in the pudding, and he has sold so many cups of that racist pudding over the last couple of years that it is hard to think otherwise.
Additionally, Florida is a racist state.
It has become the 21st century equivalent to 20th century Mississippi and Alabama.
When DeSantis says Florida is where woke goes to die, he is using woke as replacement for the advancement of Black people and Black causes.
When DeSantis infers that critical race theory has no place in the “Sunshine State,” he is saying that to rile up racist White people to fight an opponent that does not exist because critical race theory is a law school course, not taught in K-12.
Furthermore, critical race theory only examines how systemic racism has impacted the lives of Black and White people.
In essence, critical race theory just examines the history of America and how America was set up to exalt White people and diminish people of color.
Additionally, when DeSantis banned an A.P. Black History course saying that it has no educational value, he is saying that our ancestors who fought to make this country what is in and built this country for free have no value.
Andrew Atterbury of Politico reported, “The Republican governor said that he supports banning the course being offered to some high school students because its lessons delve too far into political agendas, broaching topics such as queer studies and abolishing prisons. Black officials in the state, from Democratic lawmakers to faith leaders, however, are seeking to overturn the DeSantis’ administration’s determination that the class ‘significantly lacks educational value.’”
DeSantis’ statement is code for he does not value Black people and the hardships that our ancestors endured.
He is saying he does not value the impact that our ancestors’ struggles still have on us today.
He constantly shows who he values in the state of Florida and that is racist White people.
So, while it is upsetting to see a 21st century governor doing his best George Wallace imitation, DeSantis is who we thought he was from the beginning, which is a hateful and racist man that has a support base because America still has so many hateful people that feel the same way.
I am not advocating that the Black community accepts DeSantis’ racism.
Vote him out of office.
Not only that, vote in school board members that care about Black people’s feeling as much as White people’s feelings because the critical race theory argument that Black history makes White people feel guilty shows that White fragility is still more important than Black people’s realities.
But at the same time, Black people should adhere to what Miami rap legend Uncle Luke said about DeSantis’ decision to eliminate advanced placement Black history from Florida classrooms.
Uncle Luke said that he is using DeSantis’ decision to make sure that he teaches his children about true Black history.
The founder of Luke Records said he would make it his business to teach his children about the Black Panther Party, the true story of Harriet Tubman, the true story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the true story of Malcolm X.
And if many of us think about it, much of what we learned about Black history came from our own studies and not classroom curriculum.
In school, I remember learning about slavery, King and basically nothing else about my people.
What I learned about the Panthers and Nation of Islam came from my own love of learning Black history that was put into me when my father would make me check out library books.
As an elementary school student, I developed a love of all history, especially Black history.
Therefore, I never looked to my teachers to teach me about my people especially if they did not come from my community.
If I wanted to learn something that was not covered in my textbooks and I couldn’t check out a library book, I had my parents and grandmothers who had a firsthand account of the trials and tribulations Black people endured at the hands of White racism.
Their trials and tribulations will live on in perpetuity because I have a platform that allows me to discuss what truly happened to people of color in America.
And I hope the racist White parents who cry fake tears at school board meetings because they feel American history makes them feel racist will read every article I write and see every television show that I am on because I will never whitewash what Black people went through like DeSantis is trying to do.
Furthermore, many Black people with even bigger platforms will continue to tell the stories of Black heroes and martyrs.
Hollywood produces movies on the Black struggle like “Till.”
Scholars write books like The 1619 Project, which has been adapted into a Hulu documentary.
And the descendants of our beloved martyrs like Rev. Bernice King will keep the true legacies of our leaders in the American discourse, even if the masses attempt to water it down.
People like DeSantis often say that a school is not the place for political or racial indoctrination.
But people like him are just as guilty of indoctrinating people because they obviously subscribe to indoctrination by omission.
By teaching younger people the true history of this country, maybe some changes can finally occur even if it temporarily makes some feel uncomfortable or guilty.
But by omitting much of American history, the mainstream can maintain the racial status quo that keeps them in power and people of color subordinate to them.
And what should we expect from mainstream America?
After all, America is what we always thought she was.