As mentioned in the morning thread, VP Harris will be visiting Florida today to call attention to the new standards for teaching black history in the state, which she called “revisionist history” in a speech last night:
“Just yesterday in the state of Florida, they decided middle school students will be taught that enslaved people benefited from slavery,” she said at a convention for the traditionally Black sorority Delta Sigma Theta Inc. “They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, and we will not stand for it.”
The DeSantis-appointed African American history task force that created the standards pushed back on criticism by Harris and others. You can read about how DeSantis stacked the task force with right-wing allies here, but to summarize, most are black Repubs, and some are known crackpots.
One task force member who issued a statement pushing back on the criticism is Frances Presley Rice, a right-wing crank who produces helpful (to Repubs) screeds about how Dems are the REAL racists because they did Jim Crow. Here’s an excerpt of the statement the task force released:
Any attempt to reduce slaves to just victims of oppression fails to recognize their strength, courage and resiliency during a difficult time in American history… We encourage everyone to view these robust standards for themselves.”
So I took them up on that challenge. Here are a few items I found while skimming through a fraction of the published standards [PDF] yesterday:
Instruction includes writings by Africans living in the United States and their effect on the abolitionist movement (e.g., Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, David Walker, Martin Delaney).
Did y’all know these historical figures were “Africans living in the United States”? I thought they were Americans since each was born in this country. But see, that’s exactly the type of liberal nitpicking that infuriates conservatives. They probably wrote it that way on purpose.
Examine the causes, courses and consequences of the slave trade in the colonies from 1609-1776. SS.912.AA.1.1
Examine the condition of slavery as it existed in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe prior to 1619.
Benchmark Clarifications: Clarification 1: Instruction includes how trading in slaves developed in African lands (e.g., Benin, Dahomey). Clarification 2: Instruction includes the practice of the Barbary Pirates in kidnapping Europeans and selling them into slavery in Muslim countries (i.e., Muslim slave markets in North Africa, West Africa, Swahili Coast, Horn of Africa, Arabian Peninsula, Indian Ocean slave trade). Clarification 3: Instruction includes how slavery was utilized in Asian cultures (e.g., Sumerian law code, Indian caste system). Clarification 4: Instruction includes the similarities between serfdom and slavery and emergence of the term “slave” in the experience of Slavs. Clarification 5: Instruction includes how slavery among indigenous peoples of the Americas was utilized prior to and after European colonization.
I think this is their subtextual retort to “The 1619 Project.” Since white people were enslaved prior to that, and black and indigenous people have been enslavers, suck it, libs — little Snotleigh need not feel guilty or uncomfortable. Not that he ever really did, but I think that’s what this is all about. Just a hunch.
Describe the emergence, growth, destruction and rebuilding of black communities during Reconstruction and beyond.
Benchmark Clarifications: Clarification 1: Instruction includes the ramifications of prejudice, racism and stereotyping on individual freedoms (e.g., the Civil Rights Cases, Black Codes, Jim Crow Laws, lynchings, Columbian Exposition of 1893). Clarification 2: Instruction includes acts of violence perpetrated against and by African Americans but is not limited to 1906 Atlanta Race Riot, 1919 Washington, D.C. Race Riot, 1920 Ocoee Massacre, 1921 Tulsa Massacre and the 1923 Rosewood Massacre. Clarification 3: Instruction includes communities such as: Lincolnville (FL), Tullahassee (OK), Eatonville (FL).
Emphasis mine. I think the Ocoee Massacre remains the most deadly election-related race massacre in U.S. history to this day. So how did black people perpetrate violence? At Ocoee, in self defense, a black man named July Perry shot and killed two members of the KKK lynch mob that had surrounded his house because a friend was thought to have taken refuge there after attempting to vote in Florida while black.
The mob eventually lynched Perry anyway, killed more than 30 other black people, burned their houses and businesses to the ground, and established Ocoee as an all-white “sundown town.” But it’s important to know that both sides acted violently and had violence perpetrated upon them.
Anyhoo, when DeSantis pitches himself as “Trump without the baggage” or “Trump except competent,” there’s some truth to that. (Though at present, he seems to be finding out that “Trump without the showmanship” isn’t a political winner.) The truth is Trump knows how to stir up racial resentment and ethnic division and is capable of delivering on it for the base in crude ways like the Muslim ban.
But DeSantis is the master of the bamboozle because he understands how government works. He also knows how to satisfy the lizard-brain urge to strike back without getting the icky bigot schmoo all over himself and his supporters, at least in the eyes of people who aren’t paying much attention.
In this instance, DeSantis has layered on plausible deniability by enlisting crackpot people of color to do the dirty work, including Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. and the department’s African American history task force. Trump had to hand out “Blacks for Trump” shirts to white people. DeSantis is building a diverse coalition of right-wing cranks to whitewash black history and enact a far-right agenda.
We’re goddamn lucky the man has all the charisma of a damp lump of dryer lint, and I hope our luck holds. But we’ll need more than luck. As VP Harris said, “We will not stand for it.”