New York Democratic Representative Ritchie Torres criticized Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis after he blocked the introduction of a new Advanced Placement course for high school students focused on African-American studies.
In a letter to the College Board dated January 12, the Florida Department of Education Office of Articulation did not specify what about the program it deemed unlawful and historically inaccurate when it said that as it stands, "the College Board's AP African American Studies course lacks educational value and is contrary to Florida law."
The course—which would have covered 400 years of African-American history and is the College Board's first new AP course since 2014—is the latest casualty in DeSantis' ongoing "war on woke" and the controversy surrounding its blockage quickly caught Torres' attention.
Announcing to his Twitter followers that DeSantis "has BANNED the teaching of AP African American Studies in Florida," Torres evoked the state's controversial "Don't Say Gay" law when he wrote:
"Florida has gone from Don't Say Gay to Don't Say Black."
You can see Torres' tweet below.
\u201cSHOCKING: Ron DeSantis has BANNED the teaching of AP African American Studies in Florida.\n\nFlorida has gone from Don\u2019t Say Gay to Don\u2019t Say Black.\u201d— Ritchie Torres (@Ritchie Torres) 1674149138
Florida’s Republican-sponsored Parental Rights in Education bill, or H.B. 1557, was last year signed into law by DeSantis. The law, colloquially known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, aims to “reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children in a specified manner.”
The law wants to prohibit “a school district from encouraging classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a specified manner” and authorizes parents to “bring an action against a school district to obtain a declaratory judgment that a school district procedure or practice violates certain provisions of law.”
DeSantis also signed into law the “Stop Wrongs against Our Kids and Employees Act" (or Stop WOKE Act).
The law empowers parents to file lawsuits to enforce the prohibition of critical race theory lessons in public schools—something that Republicans have falsely claimed is happening—and to defund primary and secondary education in the event they school consultants on the theory, and bars its concepts from being included in employee training.
Many immediately understood the connection Torres drew in his tweet and joined him in criticizing DeSantis' racist action.
\u201cthis is a move to flex just how racist you can be openly without repercussion as a government official\u201d— shad the nuggets fan (@shad the nuggets fan) 1674279085
\u201cIs it shocking though? He\u2019s been explicit about his aims for years\u201d— Comorienne \ud83c\uddf0\ud83c\uddf2 (@Comorienne \ud83c\uddf0\ud83c\uddf2) 1674162908
\u201cSchools have always been politicized, battleground sites to contest racial meanings, power structures, and ultimately, the history, identity, and integrity of this country. \n\nEthnic studies = an antidote to our historical amnesia. We will continue to see attacks like this. \ud83d\udc94\ud83d\udc94\u201d— Bianca Mabute-Louie \u96f7\u5929\u82af (@Bianca Mabute-Louie \u96f7\u5929\u82af) 1674168862
\u201cTo the shock and suprise of... absolutely no one. They aren't even bothering to have a "quiet part" anymore. Its all in your face.\u201d— Bitch Pudding (@Bitch Pudding) 1674171945
\u201cThis is so deeply disturbing. It\u2019s one thing to say AAS is not for me, but something entirely different to literally ban anyone from learning it. History tells us this is how division is sown. Why are there not more alarm bells going off? It will not stop here.\u201d— Dr. Chrystal Ama Starbird PDB Depositer (@Dr. Chrystal Ama Starbird PDB Depositer) 1674203693
\u201cHow much are we going to let this little man cost us in not just tax dollars (fighting unconstitutional laws in his anti woke agenda) but integrity and humanity?\u201d— Danelle Dodge - Shine A Light FL (@Danelle Dodge - Shine A Light FL) 1674184492
\u201cAll eyes on Deathsantis. The man is completely unhinged and will do worse to the country if elected President.\u201d— Melissa Good Trouble \ud83d\udc99\ud83c\udf0a\ud83c\udf3b\ud83d\udc99\ud83c\udf0a\ud83c\udf3b (@Melissa Good Trouble \ud83d\udc99\ud83c\udf0a\ud83c\udf3b\ud83d\udc99\ud83c\udf0a\ud83c\udf3b) 1674159524
Although DeSantis, his supporters, and the Republican Party at large has continued to assert that critical race theory is being taught in public schools, there is no evidence this is the case.
Critical race theory is a graduate school level analysis of systems and institutions which quantifies areas of disparity in treatment and outcomes Republicans falsely alleged is being taught in elementary, middle and high schools to appeal to the insecurities and fears of their core voting base.
Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has called the pushback against critical race theory a "culture campaign" by Republicans and Fox News that aims to "limit learning and stoke fears about our public schools."