Florida rep's bill to ban ‘race or sex scapegoating’ sparks a call to teach African American history year round

click to enlarge Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay - Photo by News Service Florida
Photo by News Service Florida
Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay

State Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, is lashing out against the idea of critical race theory, filing a bill to ban its use in all government institutions, including universities.

Critical race theory is an upper-level academic framework that examines whether and how systems and policies perpetuate racism. The topic has become a lightning rod for conservatives across the country, who claim it's being taught in grade schools.

Fine, who is white, has said the topic is inherently racist. However, state Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, who is Black, said that in grade school, she was taught European history.

There was "not any focus at all on the free labor that our people gave that made the American economy a superpower that it became," Thompson said. "And is it racist, then, that I only got European history? I think so."

Gov. Ron DeSantis already had issued a ban on discussing critical race theory in public schools in June, during the racial unrest following the killing of George Floyd. Thompson said she believes African American history — which is not the same thing as critical race theory — should be taught because it's part of American history.

Thompson has filed bills advocating teaching African American history in schools. She noted that since 1994, Florida law has required African American history be taught in all 67 counties. However, she said, research by the Florida Department of Education's African American History Task Force has shown the law is being ignored.

"They have found that only 11 of the 67 counties are actually providing acceptable instruction in African American history," she said.

Thompson said what she considers "acceptable" is instruction beyond Black History Month.

Fine's bill includes a 10-point list of what it calls "divisive concepts" to be banned (see below). The list includes topics around sexism and "race or sex scapegoating."

The proposal also bans teaching that one race or sex is inherently superior to another, teaching that the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist, or teaching that individuals are inherently racist, sexist or oppressive based on their own race or gender.

110.1222 Policy against race or sex scapegoating or race or sex stereotyping.—
(1) As used in this section, the term:
 (a) "Divisive concepts" means any of the following concepts, including views espousing that:
1. One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.
2. The United States is fundamentally racist or sexist.
3. An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously.
4. An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex.
5. Members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex.
6. An individual's moral character is inherently determined by his or her race or sex.
7. An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
8. An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.
9. Meritocracy or traits, such as a hard work ethic, are racist or sexist or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.
10. Any other form of race or sex scapegoating or race or sex stereotyping.

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