| “Students deserve to know the truth. Are we passionate about it? You damn right we are,” said Ben Frazier, president and founder of the North Florida Coalition in Jacksonville, Florida.
Frazier has directed much of his ire over the last year toward Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who used critical race theory as a political talking point throughout much of 2021. On Dec. 15 DeSantis announced his proposed Stop W.O.K.E. Act, which stands for “Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees.”
If passed, the proposal “will give businesses, employees, children and families tools to fight back against woke indoctrination. The Stop W.O.K.E. Act will be the strongest legislation of its kind in the nation and will take on both corporate wokeness and Critical Race Theory.”
The legislation would strip state funding to institutions believed to use critical race theory and would discourage businesses from diversity, equity and inclusion practices to which DeSantis considers racist and Marxist ideology.
“When you pull back the covers, you’ll see the ugly face of racism and white supremacy and that needs to be taught, why because that is the truth,” Frazier said as reason to promote critical thinking and discussion around America’s racist past and better understand why systemic racism still exists today.
Frazier bluntly says DeSantis is stoking racism as he prepares for a gubernatorial reelection campaign and possibly a bid for the White House.
“What does he mean when he says ‘our people’? Do we have to guess? He means white people. Who does he mean when he says ‘our kids’? He’s not talking about Black kids, he’s talking about white kids, we’ve got to protect our white people and our white kids from harmful ideologies,” Frazier said.
Also calling out DeSantis’ latest attack on CRT is Florida state Rep. Angie Nixon, who says the governor is playing politics and jeopardizing Florida’s public school children. She says these attacks are only making teachers’ jobs harder at a time when Florida is already short-staffed in the classroom because of a major teacher shortage impacting schools across the Sunshine State.
“Let’s be real, in public schools in K through 12, CRT was not being taught. This is simply an attack on educators, and, as stated earlier, it’s all about politics and playing to a base … and DeSantis doesn’t want to educate the kids about Black history,” Nixon said.
Critical race theory dates to the 1970s and was created by legal scholars, primarily Derrick Bell and Kimberle Crenshaw. According to Education Week, “The core of the idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.”
“There are a number of disparities, look at them, disparities in housing, disparities in health and healthcare, disparities in employment, disparities in education and finance,” Frazier said of the myriad of ways systemic and institutional racism plagues communities of color.
The biggest losers in the ongoing battle over critical race theory are the children, Frazier laments, because they are being deprived of the truth.
“You’ve got to understand, some people say it doesn’t exist, some people think we’re living in this post-civil rights period and that racism somewhere, somehow disappeared. I don’t know who waved the magic wand, but I suggest it is still with us,” Frazier outlined.
Atlanta Black Star sought clarification from DeSantis’ office on the Stop W.O.K.E. Act legislation but did not hear back from his office at the time of this report.