Florida has a ridiculous new law targeting teachers. This is why I break it.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaking at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit at the Tampa Convention Center on July 22 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Joe Raedle via Getty Images)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaking at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit at the Tampa Convention Center on July 22 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle via Getty Images)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaking at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit at the Tampa Convention Center on July 22 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle via Getty Images)

as a couple A few weeks later, I’m back in the college classroom to continue my 20-year education at one of Florida’s colleges. Despite the recently passed HB 7 Amendment (stop walk act), we do not adjust the syllabus to remove readings or discussions that make the student “uncomfortable”. Nor do I pretend that systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and other forms of oppression do not exist. , nor does it downplay the challenges and oppression that many still experience, especially women and members of the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities.

Instead, I’ll do what I’ve been doing. Select creative works by authors from all kinds of communities and ask students to read their stories and discuss the works and their themes. Some of those themes are difficult and can make many of us uncomfortable regardless of how we perceive them or what community we are in.

But my students are not snowflakes. Governor DeSantis assumes they are…and neither am I.author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Single stories create stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story the only story. ” Those of us who can come to college can come to college. It hopes, in part, to expand our worldview. My students come to learn how to tell their own stories. One of the ways we teach is by studying what others have done.

I deliberately select work by members of marginalized communities. Because many of my students have not yet heard these voices…and many of my students belong to these communities. : An American Memoir. A poem by Kiese Laymon and Danez Smith. Both of these authors tackle race, class, whiteness, sexuality, politics, family, and body image. Smith’s work also tackles homophobia, police brutality, and other “disgusting” topics.

HB 7 (with its clever Stop WOKE nickname) said the bill would “try to refute that everyone in particular is privileged or oppressed”. But my white, straight students don’t react the way DeSantis and his voters fear.

In a discussion post on “Heavy,” one student wrote, “I feel like this was a really good insight into a world I know nothing about.” Another commented that: ), about what we have to experience on a daily basis and how we should use our voices to demand a safer environment for all who live here, regardless of race, gender or sexuality. , can experience direct explanations.” They are not “educated” by me. They were enlightened by the stories of others.

People in marginalized communities often sit quietly in class as white people express their shock at their experiences.

In fact, I am more concerned that students in marginalized communities experience “psychological distress” from my reading lists and class discussions. As one of my students said when discussing ‘Heavy’, ‘I live in this book and have heard other stories from my mother. People in marginalized communities often sit quietly in class when white people express their shock at their experiences.

If there is an opportunity to find ways to unite nations and rationally debate controversial topics, educators need to model how to do so while actively working towards change. The only people who benefit from harmony are politicians and the companies that feed them (and are fed by them), lobbyists, media groups, etc. So it’s no surprise that DeSantis’ recent legislation seeks to silence experiences that don’t fit the image of America that didn’t really exist, instead of promoting an education system that seeks to include everyone’s experience. That’s what I mean. This is another strategic move in the culture wars that no one wins. look at the presidential bid.

I don’t want to make these accusations. In fact, I don’t want to write this essay…and I especially don’t want to use pseudonyms. I’ve never thought about that before, and I’ve released a lot of things that required courage. I believe in authenticity and transparency. However, I am concerned that the governor is willing to punish those who even consider opposing him. Who else may be adversely affectedI can tolerate professional and personal backlash. I can accept that these words could be grounds for my dismissal. Opposing and actively resisting this law deserves to be fired.

However, I worry that it will scrutinize my colleagues and reduce the budget of my university and the humanities in general. DeSantis has already proven he doesn’t care if his students are suffering As a victim of political warfare. Students will also suffer budget cuts.

Still can’t keep quiet. I can’t speak objectively about how America’s history is inextricably linked to genocide, slavery, white supremacy, sexism, and so on. And to be “objective” to the claim that history doesn’t still haunt us and that groups of people aren’t privileged or oppressed based on systems that were set up centuries ago. You can not.

This is clearly false, and Governor DeSantis knows it. He majored in history at Yale University. He is not acting out of ignorance. He acts for political gain. He deliberately ignores marginalized communities and seeks to sentence them to a future as dire as the past. It only governs some of the citizens of this state who have sworn to do so.

He also underestimates Florida youth. Even if educators agree to remain silent, if they stop assigning and discussing material that “supports, promotes, advances, indoctrinates, or compels” students to be privileged, and out of fear, racism and other forms of oppression and their sources – our students are already aware of the problems so many face here. They live, work, study and learn with each other on some of the most diverse campuses in the United States. Many of our universities have undergraduates, nearly half of whom belong to ethnic minority groups.

And when those students enter my classroom? For those who may not be aware of the America that exists for so many people, they will learn about it…and I don’t pretend to be “objective” about oppression and privilege I never tell my students that they are “responsible” for actions “perpetrated in the past by other members of the same race.” Of course not. but we that is It is our responsibility to be aware of how we contribute to this system and to understand who benefits from it. We must face it before we can all commit to working for change.

And for the students who trusted us with her story? I am not saying that her experience is not valid, nor am I trying to market her with an image of an America that never existed. I want to say that oppression is a theory, but she doesn’t believe me. she lives it

This is not indoctrination. It’s education.

As long as I am allowed into the classroom, I will do my job.

I hope Governor DeSantis does the same.

Beth L. Matterson is a pseudonym for an instructor and writer at the University of Florida. Matterson writes poetry, memoirs, and sometimes fiction. She says she’d much rather spend time with her dog than write an essay like this, but she says, “I can’t sleep when I think about America where so many people are silent. , they become more concerned about their own comfort than their own learning.”

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