Progressive groups protest elimination of affirmative action; DEI programs in Florida

Students for a Democratic Society, USF Graduate Assistants United, Party for Socialism and Liberation, and Progressive People's Action in attendance. By: Josh Holton (7/27/2023

Yesterday about a dozen activists gathered in protest of a plethora of changes in education by the Republican supermajority in the Florida state legislature, as well as the US Supreme Court’s overturning of affirmative action.

“Racist, sexist, anti-gay; Ron DeSantis, go away! Racist, sexist, anti-gay; Ron DeSantis, go away!…”

Joseph Charry is leading that chant, and is with the Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society. He said that the Supreme Court, along with many conservative lawmakers are wrong to ignore race in admissions.

“They expect colleges to ignore race, all of a sudden, they want to ignore race when it comes to admissions when it comes to all these acts that have been put in to protect populations, but they don’t. I mean, real life does an indoor race. You can’t have cops that are shooting black kids here in Tampa here all over the US to ignore race because race is a thing that they themselves know about, and they themselves choose to act upon.”

Charry also criticized new Florida State Board of Education Benchmarks.

“Apparently, the Board of Governors [Education] for Florida decided that he would teach them to K-12 that some slaves benefited from slavery.”

Last week the

Board approved new social studies standards leading to Vice President Kamala Harris calling it revisionist history. While Fox News tried to label her claim as “categorically false” PolitiFact has rated her claim mostly true. The Florida Department of Education doubled down in response, reiterating, quote “some slaves developed highly specialized trades from which they benefited.” Unquote, Jake Geffon is with Progressive People’s Action, and took issue with that notion

“And the weirdest part is it’s like they’re tying these people’s success in their life explicitly and exclusively to their identity as former slaves and not as individuals that there were, it’s even more disingenuous when you consider that their struggles a slave doesn’t actually mean anything to them. Because it’s not you’re not allowed to teach about it.”

African American studies professor at Emory University, Carol Anderson, said, quote, “It has the racist underpinning of treating Africans as if they had no skills prior to being kidnapped from their homelands and trafficked to America,” she continued, “In fact, it was Africans’ skills in cultivating tobacco, sugar and rice that proved beneficial to the enslavers and built the inordinate wealth of the United States. The question itself is dehumanizing.”

In March several University of South Florida community members were arrested while protesting the Stop Woke Act. Charry demands justice for the Tampa 5.

“You know, our demands are for Chris Daniel, the police chief that was there and that initiated the violence to be fired. Clearly, because people like him should not be bullies. People like him do not protect us, we protect us.”

Victoria Hinckley is with SDS and called the efforts to change course curriculums a strategy to silence dissent.

 “Dissent just continues to attack education, because he knows that when people are educated about their cultural history, and about the history of this country, that then they see the importance of social movements that create real change for oppressed people. And they see the importance of protesting and demanded, demanding our own rights.”


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