“The same divide techniques that they used on the plantation:” Several Black members were “iced out of” Florida’s new standards for Black History

A majority of the members of the Florida work group that worked on Florida’s new standards for Black history, including three Black members, did not agree with the sections that drew criticism, claiming they were “purposefully kept in the dark.”

A member spoke up

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According to Daily Beast, Dr. Donna Austin, one of the workgroup members, was “completely unaware” of the new standards until they went public. She told the Daily Beast, “I’m an African American, and I’m not expecting any type of standard to imply that my ancestors benefited from slavery.”

The member found it “demeaning”

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Dr. Austin continued, “I thought that that was very disrespectful, extremely demeaning, and it supports what people want others to believe about African and African American people.” She added, “It’s the same divide techniques that they used on the plantation. It’s the same, identical thing. They always use methods of dividing the African and African American people. That’s what they do.”

The doctor shared her vision

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Austin further shared, “I’ve been on the Task Force for years, and we were making great strides in getting districts to implement African and African American history in their classrooms,” she said. “We were doing very well at helping them to understand how to infuse the standards and their curriculum so that children from K-12 can really learn the truth about African and African American history. And for this to come… it seems to me that this was something that was applied and planned.”

Blaming DeSantis

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Dr. Austin blames DeSantis and his administration, saying, “These people are very conniving and cunning.” She continued, “I’m going to be honest with you: This is a race war. And we have too many African Americans on the wrong side of the battlefield.”

Two more Task Force members spoke up

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Both Task Force members did not have input into the new curriculum. Sen. Geraldine Thomas told Daily Beast, “Florida statute requires that instruction be provided on African civilization before colonization and slavery.” Thomas continued, “This focus is totally missing from the newly adopted standards. The standards should not advance the misconception that our history as a people began with slavery and not with one of the most advanced civilizations in the world.”

Whitewashing of history

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Thomas added, “This whitewashes the brutality that occurred when families were separated by being sold off during slavery and the resulting long-term trauma still experienced by current generations.” But the accusations did not end there.

Florida representative was also left out

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“Kimberly Daniels, a Florida state representative who was appointed to the Task Force by Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, insisted she was also totally iced out of the process,” CBS 47 reported. She told the outlet, “I never participated in any conversation about the state’s Black History standards. In fact, I was never consulted about these standards,” adding, “I disagree with and would have immediately challenged and resisted any notion that slavery was a benefit to African Americans.”

Even more allegations

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NBC reported that two group members said they never voted, calling the language “problematic” and claiming that the group “could have done a better job.” According to the same members, who wish to stay anonymous, 13 members “pushed” for the final version. The workgroup members who spoke to NBC News said that only two members, William Allen, and Frances Presley Rice, advocated for the criticized language.

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