Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis is pushing a bill that would prohibit public schools and private businesses from making white people feel “discomfort” and “guilt” when they teach students or train employees about racism and discrimination in America’s past.
On Tuesday (January 18), the state’s Senate Education Committee approved the bill that takes aim at critical race theory, although it doesn’t mention it explicitly.
According to NBC Miami, Democrats are arguing that the bill is completely unnecessary and would lead to frivolous lawsuits. They also claim it would amount to censorship in schools and asked for real-life examples of teachers or businesses telling students or employees that they are racist because of their race.
“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,” said state Sen. Shevrin Jones, who is Black, according to NBC Miami. “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?”
Last month, DeSantis held a news conference during which he called critical race theory “crap” and said he would seek legislation that would allow parents to sue schools and employees to sue employers if they were subject to its teachings.
The bill reads in part, “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. 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.”
According to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, critical race theory centers around the idea that racism is systemic in American institutions and that they function to maintain the dominance of white people in society.
Jones says DeSantis is playing to his conservative base with the bill, but stopped short of calling the governor racist.
“The governor will continue to go across the country with his racist rhetoric on critical race theory ... It's a problem that doesn't exist,” Jones said. "I think the governor's policies that he continues to push are racist."