2024 presidential candidate Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) slammed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — who is also running for the White House — on Thursday over his state’s new Black history curriculum requiring students to be instructed on the “benefits” of slavery.
“There is no silver lining in slavery,” Scott told Politico. “Slavery was really about separating families, about mutilating humans and even raping their wives. It was just devastating.”
The South Carolina Republican added he hoped that “every person in our country, and certainly [someone] running for president, would appreciate that” slavery offered no benefits to enslaved people.
Florida’s new curriculum, which was announced last week, requires instructors to teach middle school students that “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
The announcement of the new requirement has come under fire from Democratic lawmakers and some Republicans as well — including MAGA loyalist Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL). Scott, who’s running against DeSantis, and Donalds, who is an avid Trump supporter who has previously shown interest in running for Florida’s governor seat, have obvious political motivations to criticize the Florida governor. They are also two prominent Black Republican lawmakers in a party that has very little diversity.
Outside the politicking, Florida’s new teaching plan is just the most recent example of the United States’ long history of failure to accurately represent the institution of slavery and its lingering and damaging effects on those who were kidnapped from their lands and enslaved. Efforts to instruct students on systemic racism have been seized on by Republican lawmakers in states across the country for the last two years as state legislatures ban any instruction that involves the so-called Critical Race Theory. CRT is an academic framework most often found at the post-graduate level that encourages instruction on race and racism in American history that’s been hijacked and demonized by the far right despite the fact that it is not used outside of higher education.
And DeSantis has used much of his platform as governor of Florida to cast himself as something of a pioneer on the anti-CRT and so-called anti-woke front, signing bills into law that ban everything from discussions of race and gender identity in the classroom to attacking Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs in academia.