TALLAHASSEE, FL – Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is currently pushing a piece of legislation that, if passed, would prohibit public schools and privately-owned businesses throughout the state from instituting teaching race-related lessons or job training that would make students or employees feel “discomfort,” giving them the ability to sue over the matter if need be.
The “Individual Freedom” bill – which centers on critical race theory without directly mentioning it by name – received its first approval last Tuesday, passing along party lines, with support by Republicans but opposition by Democrats.
Critical race theory was developed in the 1970s and 1980s, and centers on the idea that racism is systemic throughout the country’s institutions for the purpose of white dominance.
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State Senator Manny Diaz (R), the bill’s sponsor, noted that it is a rejection of the core concepts of what Conservatives believe defines critical race theory- singling out white people as oppressors and that are inherently racist.
“No individual is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, solely by the virtue of his or her race or sex,” Diaz said. “No race is inherently superior to another race.”
“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,” the text of the “Individual Freedom” bill reads, in part. “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.”
Media outlets contacted DeSantis’ office for comment on the legislation; his spokeswoman referred to a recent press conference where the Governor – who has been quoted as referring to critical race theory as “crap” – referenced Martin Luther King Jr., the late civil rights activist.
“You think about what MLK stood for, he said he didn’t want people judged on the color of their skin but on the content of their character. You listen to some of these people nowadays, they don’t talk about that,” DeSantis had said at the time.
However, State Senator Shevrin Jones (D) said that the “needless” bill, if passed, would lead to frivolous lawsuits and censorship.
“This bill’s not for Blacks, this bill was not for any other race. This was directed to make whites not feel bad about what happened years ago,” he said. “At no point did anyone say white people should be held responsible for what happened, but what I would ask my white counterparts is, are you an enabler of what happened or are you going to say we must talk about history?”