‘Many in the African-American community are not surprised by the regressive policies being promulgated by MAGA Republicans and accepted by the 40 percent of Americans who have been convinced Black and Brown people are taking over,’ said Goliath Davis, III, Ph.D.
BY GOLIATH J. DAVIS, III, PH.D., Contributor
PINELLAS COUNTY — Many of us have heard the old saying: “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” My generation and those preceding grew up hearing parents and other elders uttering the phrase to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with events, policies and actions taken by elected officials, governmental bodies and other bureaucratic organizations.
So, oddly enough, many in the African-American community are not surprised by the regressive policies being promulgated by MAGA Republicans and accepted by the 40 percent of Americans who have been convinced Black and Brown people are taking over. We are also not surprised by the smattering of Black and Brown faces who support the movement — lessons learned from slavery.
I was a graduate assistant to Dr. Coramae Mann, professor of criminology while working on my doctorate at Florida State University. Dr. Mann was from Chicago and often expressed her disbelief regarding the conservative nature of Florida and the complacency of many who resided in the state.
She often said: “You live in an f_ _ ked-up state. I cannot believe how tolerant our people are.”
I often reminded her of Florida’s transient nature and that many of those in power are retired transplants. In fact, the demographics of Florida and the related political ideologies vary dramatically between North Florida, Central Florida and South Florida.
If she were alive today, Dr. Mann would be appalled by the assaults on Democracy, African-American culture, African-American history, equal rights, equity, voting rights and human rights in general by Gov. Ron DeSantis, MAGA Republicans and the Mothers of Liberty. She would also be just as dismayed by what appears to be milk toast responses from the African-American community, elected officials and civil rights organizations.
How many of you clearly remember being taught that George Washington was the father of our country who never told a lie? Yet, any attempt to correct the record regarding the way Native Americans and Blacks are portrayed is referred to as “woke” politics that should be banned in schools.
Why is teaching the truth about the Trail of Tears not acceptable? Why is it not acceptable to teach the truth about the economics and inhumanity of slavery? Both are political facts, and who believes George Washington never told a lie?
The denial of African-American contributions led Dr. Carter G. Woodson to formulate and institute Negro History Week, which later became Black History Month.
It is reported that Gov. DeSantis contributed to the campaigns of school board candidates who embraced his philosophy, appointed state college board members aligned with his philosophy after dismissing those who were not, and banned the College Board’s Advanced Placement African American Studies curriculum because it contained “woke” content.
If criticized for these actions, I am confident the governor and his supporters will affirm their constitutional right to participate in the electoral process and his right as chief executive officer to hire and fire. So why can’t educators demand the right to teach, and students demand the right to learn when the content is factual? Why, again, must special efforts be taken to acknowledge African-American contributions to American history?
As before, the government is indoctrinating. However, unlike yesteryear, the process is not subtle; it is blatant, bold and in your face. During segregation, school boards and governors in the vane of former Alabama Governor George Wallace controlled the educational content, ensuring white students were sufficiently indoctrinated.
We knew what was happening, and segregation was our saving grace. African-American pride and the desire to break the chains of slavery and its residual effects led our educators to instill pride, self-worth, educational excellence and historical accuracy. Black History month facilitated their efforts.
One of the goals of education is to prepare scholars for life, and ironically, MAGA, Mothers of Liberty and our governor are working to derail the mission. Homosexuality, premarital sex, incest and historical facts some white parents assert make their children feel guilty are facts of life. All of our children are associated with these issues in and out of school through their association with friends, peers and social media.
If one were to follow the MAGA logic to its ultimate conclusion, then we should create educational bubbles to shield scholars from the world’s truths, i.e., all the things MAGA fears that occur with some degree of regularity in the real world. The very idea is nonsensical.
The salient question for those of us who reside and have property interests in Pinellas County is simple: What will our superintendent, elected officials, and compliance organizations such as COQEB, NAACP and the Urban League do to represent its non-MAGA constituents?
It appears our lone African-American School Board member has lost her way. Are we going to accept totalitarianism and allow MAGA politics to take precedence over democracy and historical facts?
If Caucasian scholars are embarrassed by the racist actions and policies of those who preceded them, why is that a problem? Educators should be allowed to address white scholars’ feelings as well as the feelings of the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ populations in order to foster understanding and the pursuit of appropriate actions to correct injustices by promulgating good public policy. Educational institutions should encourage and foster intellectual curiosity, debate, and discussion of competing points of view.
I vividly remember the heated discussions regarding sex education in schools. Rather than support effective sex education curricula, some parents campaigned vigorously to ban sex education in its totality.
I frequently reminded them that sex education is and has always been taught in school. The problem I added is “the wrong people are teaching it.” Students were, and maybe to some extent today, teaching their versions of Sex-Ed in bathrooms, on the playgrounds and in the back seat of cars.
The same is true today for the American historical information and ubiquitous realities MAGA, Mothers of Liberty and DeSantis are trying to ban. African-American history, replete with the contributions of Black citizens and the misguided policies and insensitivities of white policymakers, is, after all, American history.
Our scholars will not sit by and condone censorship and totalitarianism. History has shown that our kids crave most that which we attempt to deny them. We have seen it all before – déjà vu.
One Reply to “Déjà vu: Here we go again”
Dr. Davis, our lone African American School Board member is not supported by the African American community because we, do not attend the School board meetings nor do we tune in for the Online meetings, I do. I also email all Board members about their decisions or lack thereof. I volunteer at some schools as the opportunity arises. I have learned much by being ‘present’.
We must learn how to vote. We cannot always get someone to run that we ‘like’. I try to vote for the one that I believe will do the least harm to my people. We have Desantis because Black folk did not like Charlie Christ and did not vote. There are some White folk in Florida that have made it their life mission to see Black folk remain on the ‘bottom’ . I looked at a recent Census report comparison that showed no growth in the African American population, we do not complete the Census and we do not vote. I talk to young folk often and they do not vote.
The 2020 Census showed a decrease in the White population and a decided increase in the Black and Brown population. Roe V Wade was shut down because of that report. Who is having the abortions??? Most Black and Brown folk cannot afford them. Yes, ‘White Fear’ is real.