Don’t listen to Florida’s teachers. Slavery didn’t provide on-the-job training.

Slavery was of “personal benefit” to Africans who were enslaved, according to Florida’s State Academic Standards for 2023 social studies curriculum. The curriculum for middle schoolers will include lessons on “how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied” for future employment after the oppressive 246-year period.

It is the most recent egregious example of America’s regression and its increased moral and ethical deficit. It reminds me of James W. Loewen’s national bestseller Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.

The truth about American slavery is not being left out due to time constraints or crammed lesson plans. This is an intentional and state- sanctioned white- washing of America’s past.

“To maintain a stratified system, it is terribly important to control how people think about that system. … How people think about the past is an important part of their consciousness,” Loewen wrote. Not surprisingly, Governor DeSantis promised voters that if he is elected as president, he would wage war against “woke ideology.”

It is almost as if these African people had no previous work history before being kidnapped and forced to stand on auction blocks turned job fairs. Florida’s children are expected to believe that African people possessed no education, gifts or talents, that there was no commerce, no government, no pre-colonial African kingdoms. No, they needed their “masters” to teach them, despite laws that forbade Africans who were enslaved from learning to read or write.

It reminds me of Melville J. Herskovits’ The Myth of the Negro Past where he outlined the myths used to validate a belief in the so- called Negro’s inferiority. The fifth and final myth: “The Negro is thus a man without a past.”

It is because the Negro is not a Negro but an African. A part of the European Slave Trade included renaming and then distributing African people throughout the so-called New World to ensure that they lost their tribal identity and over time, forgot their past.

This is why the raceless gospel is so important. Because people do not originate from colors but continents and countries. Racializing identity is a part of the colonizing processand so is erasing history.

Florida’s curriculum suggests that slavery doubled as a trade school and that these human traffickers’ plantations were just large guidance counselor offices. So did the Black Codes, lynching, Jim and Jane Crow segregation and redlining have a silver lining too?

“One is astonished in the study of history at the recurrence of the idea that evil must be forgotten, distorted, skimmed over. … We must forget that George Washington was a slave owner… and simply remember the things we regard as creditable and inspiring. The difficulty, of course, with this philosophy is that history loses its value as an incentive and example; it paints perfect men and noble nations, but it does not tell the truth,” W. E. B. DuBois wrote in Black Reconstruction.

This is not new. Just put it in your three- ringed binder with the myth of “happy slaves,” kind masters and mistresses. There was also drapetomania, a “psychological disorder” invented by Samuel Adolphus Cartwright.

He said the “disorder” afflicted enslaved Africans and caused them to try to escape their captors. Because what sane person would want to have bodily autonomy, right?

It was reported in an 1840 census that free African Americans were more likely to suffer from “insanity” or “idiocy” than those who were enslaved. “Slavery has a wonderful influence upon the development of moral faculties and the intellectual powers,” Edward Jarvis, a doctor based in Louisville, wrote in a leading medical journal, which cited the census. Jarvis believed that slavery rescued African Americans “from some of the liabilities and dangers of active self-direction.”

In other words, slavery benefited the slaves. It’s the lie their enslavers told themand now Florida’s teachers are going to repeat it to middle schoolers.

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