Political racism & modern day anti-literacy laws
Welcome to The Fulcrum’s daily weekday e-newsletter where insiders and outsiders to politics are informed, meet, talk, and act to repair our democracy and make it live and work in our everyday lives.
Ron DeSantis and the rise of political racism
Ron DeSantis, in his crusade to become panderer-in-chief against the scourge of wokism, followed up his ban on teaching critical race theory with a similar prohibition of an advanced placement history course in African American studies proposed by the College Board. These decisions were officially rendered by the Florida Department of Education but the notion they were made independently of the governor is as persuasive as the idea that the Russian parliament’s support for the Ukraine War was arrived at independently of Vladimir Putin.
The proposed course is an interdisciplinary study, which includes literature, the arts, and science, in addition to history and politics. To justify its actions, the department told CNN that “it had concerns about six topics of study in the year-long course, such as the Movement for Black Lives, Black feminism, and reparations.” They specifically objected to material they claim violates state law, which forbids “instruction that suggests anyone is privileged or oppressed based on their race or skin color.”
Curriculum regulations and book bans: Modern day anti-literacy laws?
“No person shall keep or teach any school for the instruction of negroes or mulattos, in reading or writing, in this State.” This quote from Missouri’s 1847 anti-literacy law is a stark reminder that in the 19th century, like today, education was a powerful tool wielded by people in power.
Missouri, like other slave states, passed anti-literacy laws, making it a crime for enslaved people or people of color to learn to read or write, or for anyone to teach them these skills. The reasoning was clear; an enslaved person who knew how to read could envision a life outside of slavery, and one who knew how to write could forge passes needed to travel north to freedom.
Podcast: Collage: The promise of Black History Month
In the first episode of Rev. Dr. F. Willis Johnson’s podcast, Collage, Johnson discusses the promise of Black History Month.
Video: The Supreme Court and originalism
Throughout US history, judges, scholars, and citizens have argued about how to go about interpreting the US Constitution. The current Supreme Court has embraced a methodology called “originalism” or “original public meaning.” But what exactly is “originalism”? What is its backstory? How does it differ from other approaches to interpretation? Are there good arguments for and against it? How does the Court’s focus on this one methodology shape its decisions and affect our lives? Three distinguished authorities will help us understand originalism and its discontents.
Podcast: 2024 Senate: Democrats have a lot of defending to do
The Crystal Ball released its 2024 Senate Ratings this week. With 34 Senate contests, Democrats are defending 23 of these seats, while Republicans are defending just 11. That Democratic tally includes the 3 states with independents who caucus with the Democrats.
In this episode, Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, provides an overview of the initial ratings and why Democrats will be playing defense.