Another media-manufactured controversy in recent days, which naturally fixated on their Florida bugaboo, relates to the way K-12 public schools in the state will instruct students on African American studies, slavery in particular.
The curriculum is comprehensive, with lessons ranging from contributions to influential art and literature by blacks to their participation in the Armed Forces to the Civil Rights Movement. And, of course, much of it deals with the history of slavery, the part that supposedly bothers people like The New York Times’ Jamelle Bouie.
“[T]hese guidelines seem like an exercise in equivocation and blame-shifting,” wrote Bouie on Friday, “an attempt to downplay the enormity of American slavery and its defining feature, hereditary racial bondage.”
What he means by “equivocation and blame-shifting” is actually otherwise known simply as “context.” Democrats and leftists prefer to think of slavery in only one way: the infantile, superficial mental image of a racist white plantation owner gratuitously cracking a whip on his black slave’s bare back before taking him to a shed and mutilating his genitals. (After all, slaves, which were valuable property back then, were solely purchased for the purpose of being maimed, disfigured, and disabled by the very people who expected them to perform long days of manual labor at a steady pace. Makes sense, doesn’t it?!)
They’d rather not talk about the things included in Florida’s guidelines. That is to say, the actual history of slavery, which was a global practice — in many places, it still is — and touched everywhere from Asia to Europe to Africa, where the Atlantic Slave Trade began.
Yes, Africans traded slaves. No, the inconvenient truth doesn’t erase America’s past, and no one said it did.
Then there’s this piece of the curriculum for grades 6-8 on “the various duties and trades performed by slaves,” like carpentry and field cropping, which also requires that classroom lesson “includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
Here’s how NBC News interpreted that line: “New Florida standards teach students that some Black people benefited from slavery because it taught useful skills.”
That is explicitly not what the guidelines say. They say that while enslaved, blacks learned things of note. One might imagine that the lesson there is in the dignity and adaptability of a group of people going through a unique hardship.
But, no. “Slaves were owned as chattel by other human beings who stole their freedom, labor and bodily autonomy,” wrote Bouie in addressing the issue. “To say that any more than a fortunate few could ‘parlay’ their skills into anything that might improve their lives is to spin a fiction.”
To Bouie and his peers, American slavery, shameful as it was, isn’t a fascinating and rich part of black history with three-dimensional figures who persevered in — and even transcended — horrible circumstances. It’s chattel and chattel only.
This would be like gay film critics only wanting anyone to know about “Will & Grace” and nothing about “Brokeback Mountain,” “Philadelphia,” or “Moonlight.”
What do you mean? No, of course, there’s nothing more to us than being the spritely comic relief and a woman’s best friend!
But that’s exactly how the left wants black Americans to feel, now and forever.