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Florida’s education secretary cowardly avoids parents at event

Manny Diaz Jr. skipped a Miami Gardens town hall where many Black parents wanted to press him on Florida’s racist new education guidelines. The move was revealing.


Attendees at Thursday’s town hall discussion in Florida about the DeSantis administration’s racist education guidelines seem to have been left with two main takeaways: 

  • Florida’s education chief, Manny Diaz Jr., is a coward for pulling out of the event and effectively denying Black parents a chance to challenge him over the new guidelines. 
  • And, importantly, that Black Floridians need to realize their political power to oust Diaz, Gov. Ron DeSantis and other leaders who want children to think enslaved people benefited from being in bondage.

Here’s a clip from the event speaking to that second point:

For background: In late July, a Democratic state lawmaker got Diaz to commit to attend the event in Miami Gardens, a largely Black community. The lawmaker, state Sen. Shevrin Jones, told Joy on “The ReidOut” on Thursday that Diaz had notified him earlier in the week that he’d be pulling out. Jones said he got the impression Diaz had been pressured by DeSantis not to show up, though Diaz dubiously claimed that he needed to welcome back children, teachers and parents for the first day of school.

Check out the clip here

Diaz’s choice to skip the event epitomizes a criticism that I and others have made about Florida’s education policies under DeSantis. These policies are framed as a way to shore up “parents’ rights,” but in practice they clearly prioritize some parents — namely, conservatives and whites — over all others. 

Last year, when I dubbed Florida’s so-called Stop WOKE Act the “Sad White People Bill,” it was because any policy restricting discussions about race that might make people feel “guilt” is clearly designed for people who have benefited from racism (i.e., white people) and not designed for those — and descendants of those — injured by it. 

And Florida’s education chief drove that point home when he declined to meet with the many Black parents at Thursday’s event. As if their rights are not a priority. 

There’s a deep hypocrisy here, of course.

There’s a deep hypocrisy here, of course. Diaz, who helped push the Stop WOKE Act as a state lawmaker, said when the legislation was passed: “What we cannot debate is that we send our students to school to learn, to be thinkers, not to be told what to think.”

Now he’s telling schools that students must be indoctrinated to think slavery had benefits for Black people. And neither he nor his boss has the guts to say this in an open forum, where Black parents could give them a piece of their mind.

Cowards, indeed.