A Florida bill could ban businesses and schools from making white people feel "guilt" about racism
21 January 2022, 15:32 | Updated: 21 January 2022, 15:57
There are currently several bills aimed at banning teaching around racial inequality and white privilege in schools and businesses in states around the US.
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Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is pushing for a bill that would ban public schools and private businesses from making white people feel "discomfort" or "guilt" about past discrimination or racism.
In a news conference held last month, DeSantis called critical race theory "crap" and said he would be bringing in legislation that would allow parents to sue schools and employees to sue employers if they were taught it.
Critical Race Theory was developed by scholars in the 70s and 80s and it suggests that racism is systemic and runs pretty much through all US institutions in order to maintain inequalities between white people and people of colour.
On Tuesday (Jan 18), the state Senate Education Committee approved the bill, called 'Individual Freedom', that condemns critical race theory (although it does not name it specifically).
The bill reads: "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."
The bill's sponsor, Republican Senator Manny Diaz, said that the bill is not about ignoring America's "dark" and horrible history but more about ensuring people are not blamed for past events. He said: "No individual is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, solely by the virtue of his or her race or sex. No race is inherently superior to another race."
In response, Democrat Senator Shevrin Jones, who is Black, has condemned the bill and branded it "racist". He explained on As It Happens: "What worries me the most is us not telling the truth in American history – Black history, at that – and shielding students from the civil rights movement, from slavery, from redlining and things that happened, and to ensure that we don't go back to those times. If we don't teach it, we're bound to go back to those days."
He added: "There's nothing comfortable about history. There's nothing comfortable about Black history. There's nothing comfortable about Jewish-American history. There's nothing comfortable about Indigenous history.
"And so, of course, individuals will be uncomfortable about how these things have happened in the past. But the only way we're going to be able to move forward is we have to have these uncomfortable conversations."
He continued: "When you create policies that's based on whitewashing history, the history of a group of people who have been oppressed in this country for over 400 years, but yet still, you don't want to teach the truth behind it, that is racist on its surface."
There are currently several bills aimed at banning teaching around racial inequality and white privilege in schools and businesses in states around the US, including Texas, Tennessee and Idaho.