Do They Really Think Calling Everything ‘Racism’ is Good for African Americans?
The left is aghast at Florida’s “racist” refusal to include the College Board’s AP African American Studies course in public schools. The White House took the lead, saying: “If you think about the study of Black Americans, that is what [DeSantis] wants to block.” Others have echoed the sentiment. Florida state Senator Shevrin Jones complained, “We have the potential of raising an entire generation of Black children who will not be able to see themselves represented in their own state or in education.”
Adora Obi Nweze, president of the NAACP, condemned the decision, damning “Governor Ron DeSantis for his abhorrent and ignorant claims that a College Board AP African American History course has no ‘value.’” The ACLU is complaining that Florida would “silence the stories of Black and brown people who helped create our country,” for the sake of “hateful and callous political agendas.”
Protesters in Tallahassee called it “the Black Attack.” Karla Hernandez-Mats, president of United Teachers of Dade in Florida, had “choice words” on it, according to an .NBC News video, calling it “xenophophobia … white nationalism … extremism,” adding the governor’s office “does not see value or significance in African American studies.”
Every one of these statements is demonstrably mindless, thoughtless, and foolish. I know that sounds harsh, but I will show why it’s nevertheless true. And then I will have a question to ask about them. Do the people spouting this foolishness really think they’re doing African Americans any good? Is that even their goal?
Why It’s Foolish
All these criticisms share a common problem: They’re all automatic answers. Everything conservatives do is racism. A 1980s-era talking doll could speak them with equal predictability and an equal amount of thought.
It may seem politically savvy, but seeing something that isn’t there is no sign of wisdom or intelligence. It makes no more sense than the man who sees a man eating grapes and shouts, “Hah! Caught you red-handed! You said you’d never eat pasta. Just look at you!”
Florida’s position is perfectly clear, despite the ACLU’s bewildered (and bewildering) complaint that the its action is based on “nebulous grounds.” It has nothing to do with hating African Americans, silencing them, denying their place in our history, or promoting white nationalism. The state officially objects to:
- queer studies
- the flagrant Marxism and open violence of the Black Lives Matter movement
- radical feminism
- the reparations movement
- Communism and the overthrow of capitalism
Do you see the word “racism” in there? Do you see any intent to avoid teachings on “African American” or “Black”? Grab some pliers and side-cutters and you might be able to force-fit “intersectionality” in with “racism,” but you’d have to misunderstand intersectionality to do it. And it still wouldn’t make it the great grand social theory it pretends to be.
Calling Florida’s action “racist” is about as intellectually impressive as mistaking grapes for macaroni. No one would be caught dead making that error over a dinner menu. Why then do some people think it does any good to equate African American experience with Marxism, homosexuality, and feminism?
The Connection That Doesn’t Connect
Maybe they think there’s some necessary connection there. Maybe the guy in my story thinks he see spaghetti strands snaked throughout that cluster of grapes. It’s still wrong to say “Your grapes are actually pasta,” and it’s also wrong to say it’s “racism” to stand up against Marxism. If people see that connection they should feel free to say so, but they also need to explain it. They need to show that African Americans’ struggles and contributions are inseparable from queerness, intersectionality, Marxism, radical feminism, Communism, and violent anti-capitalism.
More than likely that’s exactly what they believe. It’s wrong in the first place, but even if it were right, they’ve still argued it wrongly. No, scratch that. They don’t even bother to argue it, but rely on dog whistles and slander.
Another commentator asked the usual question. “We’re simply asking this governor, what are you afraid of?” The left loves that line. Try telling them you think it’s wrong to teach what’s factually and morally wrong, and they choke on that word “wrong.”
How much good does that do anyone, especially African Americans?
Maybe We’re Just Supposed to Believe Without Thinking?
There are times I think our enemies expect us to accept what they say without explanation or argument. Fedrick Ingram, Secretary-Treasurer for the American Federation of Teachers, told ABC, “This is probably step five in a grander scheme of things, because this is hoisting political ideology into our classrooms and into our schools. We should trust our teachers to do the right things.”
We “should trust our teachers.” I like that idea. I’m all in favor of trusting teachers. Teachers are human, though, which means they aren’t perfect. They have degrees in education, which gives them skills but doesn’t guarantee them wisdom. Most universities are teaching the opposite these days, actually. Who does Ingram think is doing more “hoisting” of “political ideology” into our classrooms? Could he be so blind as not to see it?
My guess is, Ingram knows exactly what’s going on. He’s only acting as if his side is free of ideology. He’s also asking all of America, African Americans included, to take the foolish path of blind trust. How does this help African Americans?
The governorship is an elected position, by the way. Being a schoolteacher isn’t. Yet these critics want their leftist bias be shoved in our kids’ faces at school, where politics has no place.
“Hah! Proof of Ignorance!”
One more example before I go. ABCNews quotes LA Times columnist and contributor LZ Granderson saying Governor DeSantis was “showcasing his ignorance”:
There are so many examples of queer presence intermingled and part of the larger African-American culture that for the governor to say that, all he is doing is showcasing how little he knows about the country, and also indirectly emphasizing the importance of this course.
That’s a fine message and a valid complaint — if Granderson can explain the connection to the rest of us. Count me doubtful on that one. Maybe he thinks there’s no non-racist way to stay away from queer theory. Maybe he also thinks if you eat grapes, it’s proof you can’t stand ravioli. As for me, I’m willing to go out on a limb and suggest that Florida’s aversion to queer theory extends to other races just as much as African Americans.
Who’s Playing Politics Here?
At least we can count on Granderson’s political and ideological neutrality. He has no ax to grind, or at least none that ABCNews thought worth mentioning when they quoted him. Why should it matter that he’s been “out” as gay since 2012, or that he’s a member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, and board member of a group called LGBTQ Loyalty? How could there be any bias in that?
DeSantis has as fine an answer as you could ask for: “We believe in teaching kids facts and how to think, but we don’t believe they should have an agenda imposed on them when you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory, you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes.”
Not a New Problem, Just a New Question
The left has a long history of calling just anything “racism,” so in that sense there’s nothing new here — nothing except a new question I’m asking. Using the language of racism as a weapon makes it impossible to use it as a tool for thought, for wisdom, for truth. It is quite literally unthinking. It sets an example of being mindless.
Those who deploy language that way claim to be on African Americans’ side. I wonder what good they think they’re doing. I want to know how mindless, thoughtless foolishness is really supposed to help. Better yet, who is it supposed to help? Wielding weaponry is one way to build up one’s one power. Who benefits from that?
So again my question is, are they really on African Americans’ side? Can’t they do better than this?
Two hours after I sent this article to fellow editors here at The Stream for review, I ran across this tweet from Texas Congressman Wesley Hunt, who says the same thing in another way. Be sure to watch the linked video.
Last time I checked, I’ve been black for a long time. I’ve been a minority for a long time. Am I racist for calling what’s happening at the southern border, an invasion? No. I’m a Congressman who is tired of this administration using racism as a scapegoat for everything. -WPH pic.twitter.com/HbTkEMw5Ks
— Rep. Wesley Hunt Press Office (@RepWesleyHunt) February 1, 2023
Tom Gilson (@TomGilsonAuthor) is a senior editor with The Stream and the author or editor of six books, including the highly acclaimed Too Good To Be False: How Jesus’ Incomparable Character Reveals His Reality.