Where Things Stand: DeSantis Campaigns On Ensuring White Floridians Don’t Feel ‘Discomfort’ About Systemic Racism

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DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - 2021/11/22: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference at Buc-ee's travel center, where he announced his proposal of more than $1 billion in gas tax relief for Flor... DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - 2021/11/22: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a press conference at Buc-ee's travel center, where he announced his proposal of more than $1 billion in gas tax relief for Floridians in response to rising gas prices caused by inflation. DeSantis is proposing to the Florida legislature a five-month gas tax holiday. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) MORE LESS

It is hard to accept when you might actually be the real snowflake.

But that’s the bitter pill Florida Republicans find themselves having to swallow.

The latest news: Florida state Republicans just passed a bill — pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — that piles on an already-cemented state policy that bans the teaching of Critical Race Theory, and systemic racism-related issues, in Florida public schools.

This latest bill goes even further. It passed out of the Florida state legislature’s Republican-controlled Senate Education Committee this week by a 6-3 vote, per Orlando Weekly.

The bill is called “Individual Freedom” and would ban not only public schools, but private businesses from discussing race-related topics or enforcing any type of workplace training that could trigger employees’ “discomfort” or feelings of “guilt.” The proposed legislation is sweeping and, at least on its face, legally dubious as it bars private businesses from mandating any workplace instruction that would perpetuate the idea that “an individual bears responsibility for, or should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex or national origin.”

The actual text of the legislation doesn’t mention Critical Race Theory, but the contextual documents given to state senators mention the term, now a boogeyman for the right. During a press conference last month announcing the push for the new, more sweeping legislation, DeSantis was blunt in his demonization of Critical Race Theory — an academic term used to describe educational curricula that focus on racism and the lasting impact of slavery in America as a systemic problem — as “state-sanctioned racism,” while dramatically suggesting discussions of such topics will inevitably produce “hostile work environments.”

The bill appropriates mental health language as it seeks to discourage private businesses from enacting progressive workplace policies in the state. Democratic State Senator Shevrin Jones put it best when describing the legislation to CNN.

“They are talking about not wanting white people to feel uncomfortable? Let’s talk about being uncomfortable,” Jones told CNN. “My ancestors were uncomfortable when they were stripped away from their children.”

Of course, this legislation all folds smoothly into DeSantis’ broader ploy of stoking grievance and various one-sided culture wars for attention ahead of 2024. He’s already taken steps to distance himself from Donald Trump after the former president, clearly irked by DeSantis’ possible presidential intentions, called out the popular Republican governor for not publicly admitting his vaccination status. Last week, DeSantis shot back, telling a right-leaning podcast that he was disenchanted with the Trump administration’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak. He, somehow, someway, argued the former administration’s botched approach to the pandemic was too aggressive. Anonymous sniping from staff in both camps ensued.

As the two egos do battle, however, the appeals to white grievance are reaching a deafening volume.

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