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A bill backed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is making its way through the state’s legislature and on its way to becoming law.
SB 148, called the Individual Freedom Act, would prohibit Florida’s public schools and private businesses from making people feel “discomfort” or “guilt” based on their race, sex, or national origin.
“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.”
Although the bill does not mention Critical Race Theory, the term is used in the attached bill analysis that was given to senators.
Republican state Senator Manny Diaz Jr. sponsored the bill and received support from Republican Gov. DeSantis.
It’s an ongoing push to eliminate Critical Race Theory from K-12 schools in the state, even though the theory is commonly studied in colleges and law schools.
What is Critical Race Theory?
Critical Race Theory addresses the United States’ history of white supremacy and systemic racism. It does so through the experience of people from marginalized communities, those who are often left out of the mainstream historical narrative.
Meanwhile, CRT does not address individuals in the way that its opponents erroneously assume. According to Stephen Sawchuk of Education Week, “Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core 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.”
Last year, Texas banned school districts from teaching CRT.
Opposition to Florida’s Bill
Democratic state Senator Shevrin Jones is the state’s Senate Education Committee vice chair and its only Black member. He told CNN that the bill is an attempt to revise history and keep White people from feeling uncomfortable
“This isn’t even a ban on Critical Race Theory, this is a ban on Black history,” he said. “They are talking about not wanting White people to feel uncomfortable? Let’s talk about being uncomfortable. My ancestors were uncomfortable when they were stripped away from their children.”
“At no point did anyone say White people should be held responsible for what happened,” Jones added. “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’?”