Gov. Ron DeSantis takes culture war to classrooms

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

Eulalia Maria Jimenez, a daughter of Cuban immigrants, approached the podium. “You can butcher my name anytime,” she verbalized toward Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Moments before introducing Mrs. Jimenez to mostly white Republican attendees, Gov. DeSantis horribly mispronounced her first name, calling her “Lay-Lay.”

Respectfully, the correct pronunciation is yoo-LAY-lee-uh.

The spelling of her first name, jotted down or perhaps printed, rested on the lectern minutes before the governor’s “Stop WOKE Act” announcement began.

Hence, the enunciation could have been attempted and corrected before the event.

Nevertheless, lost to laziness and cultural incompetence was the brief moment to admire the uniqueness of Mrs. Jimenez’s first name that adds to our American story of being the melting pot. 

DeSantis’ “Stop WOKE Act” legislation, if passed, would permit lawsuits against teachers and schools that teach critical race theory. 

DeSantis’s Cultural Apathy

It was the “butcher my name anytime” that gave me pause. Maybe if he had called her “Toby” like the fictional character in the movie ROOTS and not Lay-Lay she would have responded differently.

But this wasn’t a hypothetical situation; it was real life. And the irony was loud to those paying attention—those who are ‘woke’. 

Jimenez subconsciously gave the governor permission to abuse the name given to her at birth by loving parents.  

To me, it was another white microaggression that had gone unchecked. To Eulalia, perhaps her moment to indirectly forgive the governor’s cultural carelessness in exchange for communal acceptance just to fit it in — or blend in. 

Yes, Jimenez could have corrected the governor in private. But with this nation’s long list of historical sins, courageous public examples are badly needed, followed by cultural supremacy being disrupted, dismantled, and eradicated. 

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The governor received a pass to continue in cultural apathy, a character flaw that gives white people a license to ignore everything from mispronounced names to academic disparities and dilapidated schools in hoods once redlined. 

And the DNA of this white American behavioral norm is — as we say in ‘woke culture’ — “weaved into the social fabric of this country,” starting with its founders and settlers. 

‘Your foreign-sounding name is too hard to pronounce and therefore unimportant, so I’ll give you a new one.’ 

I say all this to say: a tiny name hiccup in a press conference may be a small microscopic fracture in the American social ether, but there are so many like it in this polarized society that Culture War is the background noise on replay. 

A Culture War on Full Display 

All of those cracks add up, and January 6 revealed that we are at a crossroads. 

It’s why Karen is the new Miss Ann.

It’s why we still have police officers casually kneeling on the necks of innocent Black shoppers and depositing bullet shells into Black boys who choose to jog in majority-white neighborhoods.

There is no unity or celebration of American diversity. There is only fear-mongering to maintain the racial hierarchy. And Miss Jimenez, the brown child of political refugees, has chosen to side with the anti-other faction.

Assimilated Echo Chamber

Accordingly, she laid her mockingbird pitch on thickly. 

“2020 was my rude awakening: the pandemic, lockdowns, mandates. The truth is that for me the race wars is [sic] what hit hardest,” she stated, before adding, “the looting, vandalized businesses, and burning of our flag.” 

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I cringed knowing she had delivered a contextually false premise targeted toward Black Americans whose cries and outrage of not being heard, treated equally, and not seen as tax-paying peers are too often misinterpreted. 

Her monolog continued,

“We have been complacent and in this complacency, our freedoms are being stripped. God has been removed from our schools. The pledge of allegiance, although Florida law, sometimes is not recited. American history replaced by Critical Race Theory. Certain manipulated versions of this theory prove that it is a direct attack on the mental and emotional well-being of the children. Kids are guilted and indebted based on their race. CRT, no matter which way you slice it, breeds division and segregation.” 

Jimenez’s statement was followed by applause from the attendees.

However, missing from her utters was the truth. CRT isn’t taught in pre-K through 12-grade levels.

Loss of Control and Power 

What Jimenez and white Americans are experiencing is a curriculum shift toward the middle that includes written narratives controlled by non-whites. 

Furthermore, the addictive behavior in controlling people groups and their narratives is being challenged at the foundation of our society, America’s public schools. 

It scares the hell out of some of them because all they have ever known is control. 

As it relates to classroom curriculum and who no longer gets to own the monopoly on it, the decentering of whiteness shakes them to their core.

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The Truth about the anti-CRT Movement 

Watching conservatives who are quick to shelter white children from their collective racial guilt only underscores how American whiteness time and time again chooses itself over country and other racial groups, even at the expense of Black students not being educationally empowered about Black stories of resistance (e.g. The German Coast Uprising and Nat Turner’s Rebellion). Stories like these are deemed unpatriotic and anti-American because white people are the victims in these narratives. 

Therefore, ‘White Kids Emotional Stability First’ is the silent racial undertone of the anti-CRT movement, which prolongs the continuous emotional trauma that Black children have experienced since Brown v. Board: slavery is over, Rosa sat, and Martin spoke – now, “get over it.”

Having conversations in high school civic’s class about how the cause of current events is the direct effect of our shared history could get a teacher fired if the dialogue even hints at historical racial subjugation as the determinant. 

What the optimist often forgets is that white supremacy and racism are about power and control. 

Hence, in this era of the culture war, classrooms are once again the battled fields and privileged white-looking minorities, coupled with a few Black shondas, are the pawns. 

I see no end in sight to this social war because white supremacy is this nation’s oldest religion and cornerstone ideology. And cultural ideologies are hard to destroy.

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