Florida Board of Education’s New Guidelines Imply Slavery Benefitted Black People

Charlie Neibergall/ AP

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.The Florida Board of Education’s new standards dictating how Black history will be taught in public schools includes a provision implying that enslaved African-Americans learned skills for “their own personal benefit.” The guidelines, approved on Wednesday, have come under fire from civil rights advocates who’ve called them “a sanitized and dishonest telling of the history of slavery in America.” 
“Our children deserve nothing less than truth, justice, and the equity our ancestors shed blood, sweat, and tears for,” Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, said in a statement. “It is imperative that we understand that the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow were a violation of human rights and represent the darkest period in American history.”
Two of the most contentious inclusions in the Board’s current guidelines include:
Instruction for high school students about several race massacres, including the 1921 bombing of Black Wall Street and the 1920 Ocoee Massacre, must include acts of violence perpetrated by African-Americans
Middle schoolers must learn about “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
State Senator Geraldine Thompson, who worked on legislation to designate scholarships for the descendants Occoee Race massacre, on Wednesday blasted the new standards for blaming the victims, according to the Washington Post.
The policies add to Florida’s ongoing war against educational material Gov. Ron DeSantis and his conservative allies believe are objectionable, including content in courses focusing on African-American studies. Since his gubernatorial campaign, DeSantis has made combatting “wokeness” a large part of his platform and has signed off on several pieces of legislation aiming to control the way racism and history are taught to young Floridians in public schools. Perhaps the most severe form of legislation came in the form of the “Stop the Woke Act” which prohibits schools from teaching anything that implies the existence of systemic racism.