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Republicans Believes That White-Americans Face More Racism Than Black-Americans


  • Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida defended the changes to the discussion of slavery in state’s educational standards.
  • The new standards suggest enslaved people “developed skills” for personal benefits, a stance not universally accepted among historians.
  • DeSantis’s arguments gain more relevance as he is a potential Republican presidential nominee for 2024.
  • Recent polling data from YouGov highlight racial disparities in perceptions of past and current racism. A third of Republicans believe that racism against White people is a significant concern. While only a quarter of Republicans believe that racism against Black people warrants the same level of concern.
  • Republicans, comprising the majority of DeSantis’s voters, have consistently shown differing views about racism against Black and White people.

The Education Controversy

Governor Ron DeSantis’ recent defense of the modifications made to the discussion of slavery in Florida’s educational standards has stirred controversy. The state’s new standards imply that enslaved people “developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit,” insinuating that the brutal institution of slavery might have been a stepping stone in their personal and career development. As DeSantis himself articulated, “some of the folks that eventually parlayed, you know, being a blacksmith into doing things later in life.” Such an interpretation diverges significantly from traditional historical narratives, which emphasize the abhorrent conditions and profound injustice of slavery.

However, DeSantis’ argument doesn’t stand alone. His effort to mitigate the extent of Black American suffering during slavery might be more palatable to some segments of his voter base.

Perception of Racism – Past and Present

YouGov’s recent polling data offer some insights into this rationale. When respondents were asked about their views on racism, a divide was revealed in perceptions of the issue. Republican respondents, for instance, were less likely than White respondents or respondents overall to say that racism against Black people was a significant issue in the past and present.

In fact, Republicans were more likely to believe racism against White people is a problem now than they were to say the same about racism against Black people.

This shift in perception underscores a growing narrative within some Republican circles that White Americans are increasingly becoming victims of racial prejudice.

Shaping Narratives and Garnering Votes

DeSantis’ defense of the new educational standards can be interpreted as a strategy to align with these perceptions, likely in an effort to gain political traction for the upcoming 2024 presidential race. Presenting slavery as less horrific than traditionally depicted allows for the diminishment of the suffering of Black people and reduces the accountability of the perpetrators.

Interestingly, only about a third of Republicans believe that there is structural racism entrenched in the social, economic, and legal structures of the United States, compared to a majority of Americans overall. This demonstrates a marked divergence in perceptions of institutionalized racism between Republicans and the rest of the population.

In the complex interplay between education, history, and politics, DeSantis’ stance on the teaching of slavery in schools is more than a regional educational matter; it’s a national political issue with implications for the 2024 presidential race.

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