[Fox News] School’s slavery language distracts from how far we’ve come

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If you have been keeping up the news lately, you might have seen the ongoing controversy concerning the Florida Department of Education and their egregious update to their social studies curriculum where they claim, “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.” 

Naturally, outrage ensued given that it is quite difficult to imagine, let alone argue, that slavery was in any way beneficial to the millions of Black Americans who were held in bondage for generations. 

Unfortunately, instead of correcting the repulsive claim, Florida’s Department of Education thought it wise to send Dr. William Allen — the author of Florida’s Black History curriculum, who himself is a Black man — to somehow justify what could have been a quick and painless linguistic fix.

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Now we, as conservatives, find ourselves once again diverting from the real issues. What ought to have been a conversation celebrating Florida’s robust Black American History curriculum has been diluted due to an avoidable choice of words.

Needless missteps like these have pervasive consequences that often harm conservatives across the country. Before shedding light on the consequences of this avoidable blunder, it is worth noting what the conversation should have been about the curriculum update. 

Since the mid-1990’s, Florida public school systems have been required to teach the history, experiences, and contributions of Black Americans throughout the state’s K-12 curriculum. Before the introduction of the new standards, there was a push from the left to include gender and queer theory in Black History.

Rightfully, Governor Ron DeSantis took bold action to establish a commission designed to protect Black History from wokeness. The new standards ensure that Black Floridan community leaders’ contributions are studied.

It mandates research about our nation’s abolitionist movement, while also ensuring students are educated about the development of Black businesses and the countless innovations that have borne from them. 

The 216-page document represents one of, if not, the most robust Black History curriculums in the nation. As Allen forcefully said in defense of the reforms “any attempt to reduce slaves to just victims of oppression fails to recognize their strength, courage, and resiliency during a difficult time in American history.”

While Allen is mostly right, the issue at hand is not about the curriculum in its entirety — it is about one line. Many might suggest that one line is insignificant ergo any criticism of that line is null and void, however I would counter that we have to understand the environment in which we operate with respect to the media and the American people.

As Americans, there should be little debate about suggesting that slavery had any positive outcomes associated with it. Our countrymen fought against one another in the deadliest war in American history as atonement for this great sin.

Implying that slavery benefited slaves is as absurd as it is tone-deaf and takes away from 216-pages of good policy. Instead of debating 14 words the focus should have been on things like the 14th Amendment, yet inaction has led to preventable politicking. 

Moveover, the thought of woke teachers further victimizing the over 2 million fatherless children in Florida’s public schools is enough to oppose this language in the proposal. As the grandson of sharecroppers and a man whose parents went to segregated schools, the thought of someone saying my family has benefited from slavery is asinine. 

Furthermore, beyond distracting from the solid policy put forth by Florida’s African American History Standards Workgroup — whose suggestions were integral in producing the new curriculum — now we as conservatives once again find ourselves at a disadvantage when it comes being competitive for the Black vote.

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Instead of being able to have fruitful conversations about issues affecting communities across the country, particularly Black communities that are growing more disillusioned with the Biden administration by the day, we are now focused on a sentence.

Put simply, one would never suggest that Japanese-Americans “benefited” when President Franklin D. Roosevelt forced them into internment camps during World War II, so what would provoke someone to make the same claim for Black Americans and slavery?

As conservatives, we lose our Godliness and unfortunately justify the absurd accusations the left hurls at us when we decide to defend the indefensible. The correction is simple: slavery, while ubiquitous across most of human history and throughout cultures around the world, was egregious. 

As conservatives, we should cherish the history of the party of Lincoln, whose establishment was principally focused on the abolition of the abhorrent practice within the United States. Moreover, instead of telling Black Americans that their ancestors benefited from bondage, we should make the argument that once given the opportunity, their ancestors embodied the American Dream.

Through perseverance, hard work, cohesive family units, rooted in Christ — Black Americans flourished in communities across the country. I believe that to be a worthy substitute for the sentence that has captivated the country.

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