Greenville, South Carolina, Makes Juneteenth Safe For White People
Probably time for a mattress sale.
Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger informed enslaved Black people in Texas that they'd actually been free since 1863. Black Americans have celebrated Juneteenth for almost 200 years, but it finally became a federal holiday in 2021. Even my hometown of Greenville, South Carolina, is celebrating — well, sort of. South Carolina state offices remain open on Juneteenth. The state legislature passed a law in 2022 that grants workers a floating holiday that they can use for Juneteenth in place of Confederate Memorial Day, which remains a state holiday. (Wonkette, at long last, will be taking the day, so make other plans amongst yourselves.)
However, lovely downtown Greenville will have a grand Juneteenth Mega Fest on June 17. Here's how it's been advertised.
\u201cWelcome to South Carolina where black people are played by white actors. #juneteenth #racists\u201d— KRIS\u2600\ufe0f (@KRIS\u2600\ufe0f) 1685103831
These models aren't just white. They're Abercrombie & Fitch white. They don't even have Bo Derek braids.
It's as if they gentrified Juneteenth after only two years. You can almost hear the lady pictured saying, "Juneteenth use to be sooo sketchy. You'd never want to walk alone at night during Juneteenth. But now you can get great kombucha on Juneteeth."
Nice Time: Juneteenth Set To Become A Federal Holiday!
Here Are The 14 Garbage White Male Congressmen Too Racist To Vote For Juneteenth
Now in fairness, Juneteenth GVL had released several banners promoting the event that featured Black, Asian, and Hispanic people. The white couple was just one of them. The event's organizer Reuben Hays, who's Black, had said that Juneteenth is a holiday for everyone and everyone should feel welcome. The latter, of course, is still true even if Black people are centered in the marketing.
“We did not want to make this exclusively Black,” Hays said. “That is not in the spirit of unity.”
Greenville’s Fighting Injustice Together activist Bruce Wilson, meanwhile, said he was "appalled," "saddened," and "angry" — so a lot of emotions — by the poster.
"I'm the first to say that White America can celebrate Juneteenth, I just don't think White America should be the face of Juneteenth," Wilson said. "And I think that's where the disconnect is. One, I'm asking this event be boycotted if they do not feel the need to remove this banner. Secondly, I'm asking everyone to call the city manager and voice your concerns about this particular banner."
Hays said in an interview last week that Juneteenth was "a very obscure sort of holiday. I never really knew much about it. I'm not from the South, so I didn't learn about Juneteenth, really until I went to Texas on business in 2013." But it was deliberately "obscure" because most white people ignored it. Most Juneteenth celebrations died out during the height of Jim Crow, when expressions of Black joy were almost capital offenses. However, Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968 sparked a resurgence.
Hays did post an apology on Facebook.
Juneteenth GVL would like to offer an apology to the community for the presence of non-black faces being represented on two flags representing Juneteenth. We acknowledge this mistake having been made and will correct the error quickly. This error was an attempt at uniting all of Greenville and thereby a slight oversight on one individual’s part that prevented us from fully embracing the rich potential and celebrating the depth of the black culture through the message and meaning of Juneteenth, and for that, we apologize to you the entire community.
To foster solidarity and inclusivity, we will continue to work to make all communities better. We take full responsibility for this misstep in this regard, and pledge to rectify the situation promptly and responsibly. Again, the flags in question will be removed as soon as possible.
The statement goes on for a while. Suffice to say, he's sorry for the mess he caused. Look, Hays seems well-intentioned and everyone should still go to the Juneteeth celebration. But it's OK for Black people have something that is uniquely our own. We were held in bondage alone, after all.
Let's not also forget some grim realities: Rep. Ralph Norman from South Carolina was one of the 14 Republicans who voted against the Juneteenth holiday. Here's his statement where he suggests that Juneteenth should have a separate but unequal name other than "Independence Day":
First of all, our Independence Day is July 4th. Period. Independence Day celebrates the anniversary of our declared independence from Great Britain, and it’s been that way for 245 years. If you want to call Juneteenth, for example, Freedom Day or Emancipation Day then fine – that’s certainly worth considering. But calling it Independence Day is WHOLLY INAPPROPIATE (sic).
July 4, 1776, was an Independence Day for some of us. You could ask the people Thomas Jefferson owned.
Exit polls for the 2016 South Carolina Republican primary revealed that a majority of voters believed the Confederate flag should've remained flying over the State capitol, and 38 percent of Donald Trump's supporters believed the Confederacy should've won the Civil War. In the 2020 presidential election, 73 percent of white South Carolinians voted for Trump and just 26 percent voted for Biden.
This doesn't mean all white Republicans or Trump voters in the state are racist. But let's wait a few years before putting white folks on the Juneteenth merch. Maybe when it's an official state holiday, we can talk.
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Cool TN Lady Gonna Fill The Social Studies Standards With Awesome Stuff Like 'Barack Obama Did The Tornados'
Of course we've met her before, your Wonkette's on top of shit!
The Education Wars just never go away, and in today's dispatch from the front lines we'll look at Tennessee, where a rightwing conspiracy theory fan and anti-Muslim bigot has just been appointed to the committee that sets standards for the state's social studies curricula.
Yr Wonkette already introduced you last year to Laurie Cardoza-Moore, the nutball Tennessee bigot lady, when she was a member of the state textbook commission that was tasked with making sure only "age appropriate" materials were in them. You may recall that Tennessee was considering a measure that would have required state approval of every last item in the collections of school libraries; the bill's sponsor charmingly said that any materials not approved by the commission should be burned. Ultimately, the Lege settled for a different plan that gave the textbook commission the power to hear appeals of book challenges brought by parents, so the state could ban library books even after a local school board had gone through a challenge process and approved them. Hooray for compromise.
We guess that Ms. Cardoza-Moore must have either done a bang-up job on that commission, or at the very least that she has powerful friends in Tennessee, because clearly it's the latter thing. She was chosen for the Tennessee Standards Recommendation Committee by Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R), the slimebooger we came to know and loathe during the kangaroo court proceedings that expelled Democratic state Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson in April. Sexton also appointed her to the textbook commission in 2021, which is quite the coincidence.
In her new job, Cardoza-Moore will have a say in setting state standards for social studies classes, although we suspect she'll just photocopy the course offerings at Hillsdale College and say "Done!" As Judd Legum points out in his Popular Information newsletter, Cardoza-Moore doesn't actually believe in public schools; she's homeschooled her own five kids, and she's simply horrified that US history texts teach historical facts that make America look bad, such as the fact that the Constitution provided a framework for oppression of African Americans. In a 2020 Fox News interview, she blamed Common Core, because why not? She claimed, falsely, that schools no longer teach about the founding of the US, but instead skip ahead to the Civil War and Reconstruction so they can harp on all the slavery, those monsters.
"This is an outrage," Cardoza-Moore exclaimed. "It poses the greatest national security threat to our constitutional republic."
So yeah, she's a real peach. She somehow also took issue with a textbook's factual statement that the Republican Party was originally founded to fight the spread of slavery beyond the states where it was already allowed, complaining that it was "disinformation" because Lincoln was anti-slavery, which, yeah, that's what the book said. She was mostly upset the book didn't say that Democrats were pro-slavery and KKK, and also what about that Klansman Robert Byrd, huh?
Cardoza-Moore initially made her name in Tennessee politics by fearmongering about Islam, back when that was the thing the Right was certain would destroy America, because Barack Obama was president. She led some of the most paranoid opposition to a mosque being built in Murfreesboro, claiming that fully 30 percent of Muslims are terrorists and that the mosque would be a base for "radical Islamic extremists" bent on destroying Nashville's Christian music industry.
During her 2021 confirmation hearing for her seat on the textbook commission, she explained that bad school textbooks are directly responsible for wrecking America and of course the riots that burned all cities in America to the ground in 2020, several of them more than once.
While America slept, the hearts, minds and souls of our students were being influenced by disinformation. Tragically we have seen the result over the past few months; our streets have been filled with rioting destructive American young people who have not been taught the values entrusted to us by our nation's founders ... nor have they been taught our nation's history — history which many seem intent to destroy
See, if only kids been made to memorize more facts about how George Washington was a Christian and God wrote the Constitution, there might be a few more cities still standing in our great land.
As Legum details, Cardoza-Moore doesn't seem to have met a conspiracy theory she didn't glom on to. She's said that 9/11 was an "inside job," that Donald Trump was the true winner of the 2020 election, and that January 6 was a false flag attack by "Antifa." I'm just disappointed that she doesn't appear to have said anything about chemtrails. But she came kind of close in 2011, as Legum explains, when she
claimed that former President Barack Obama was causing "horrific tornadoes" because he made a speech that discussed the plight of Palestinians. Asked if she still held these views, Cardoza-Moore did not respond.
She also runs her very own "Christian Zionist" nonprofit called "Proclaiming Justice to the Nations," which recently ran a press release on her appointment to the social studies standards job. In it, we learn that she has previously helped the Florida Department of Education screen textbooks, "a successful review effort that 'caught and corrected dozens of books to prevent political indoctrination of Florida’s children,' a spokesperson for Governor Ron DeSantis noted."
In the press release, Cardoza-Moore reflected on the important task ahead of her, because
"The materials we will be reviewing can only accomplish the mission of educating good American citizens if our Tennessee textbooks are devoid of left-aligned historic revisionism and the toxic material found in the antisemitic Critical Race Theory; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Social-Emotional Learning and Ethnic Studies.”
Impressive how she got all the rightwing shibboleths in there!
The statement also emphasized that Muslim groups opposed her appointment to the textbook commission, presumably because if she has the right enemies, that just shows what a great job she'll do for Tennessee students.
We can hardly wait to see what happens to Tennessee social studies standards. Haha, we kid, of course, because we read the history standards that Donald Trump's "1776 Commission" came up with, so we have a pretty good idea. Good luck, kids!
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Florida School District Will Protect Little Kids From Joe Biden's Socialist Inauguration Poem
It wasn't 'censored,' it was 'made unavailable' to elementary students. They can read it in middle school if they aren't shot by then.
In the latest news from the school censorship battlefield — along with the Washington Post investigation (gift link) which found that most challenges to books in US schools were filed by just 11 people, yes really — we learned yesterday that Miami-Dade County Public Schools restricted access to a book version of "The Hill We Climb," Amanda Gordon's poem from Joe Biden's inauguration in 2021.
Remember what a joyful, beautiful reading Gorman gave us that day?
Previously: After Vogon Poetry Years Of President Before Biden, Let's End Our Day With Amanda Gorman's Inauguration Poem
But darn it, the poem and some books about Cuba and Black history were simply too much for one angry parent, who demanded that they all be removed forever so they wouldn't fill little kids with Wrongthink, according to documents released by the kick-ass anti-censorship nonprofit The Florida Freedom to Read Project. Specifically, and ungrammatically, the complaint about the poem explained it "is not educational and have indirect hate messages." The parent who complained also listed "Oprah Winfrey" as the author, apparently because Oprah's name is on the cover — she wrote the foreword.
In a statement, Gorman said she felt "gutted" by the action against her poem, noting that book censorship frequently targets those "who have struggled for generations to get on bookshelves,” and that the "majority of these censored works are by queer and non-white voices."
She said that she'd written "The Hill We Climb"
so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment. Ever since, I’ve received countless letters and videos from children inspired by The Hill We Climb to write their own poems. Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech.
Well sure, but what about all the hidden hate messages, which were in fact so well hidden that we couldn't even find them in the text of the poem that the parent complained about:
We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
And the norms and notions of what "just is"
Isn’t always justice
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
A nation that isn’t broken, but simply
I guess it must be CRT because discrimination is in the past so why bring it up? Or the Mad Mom thought it invoked the chant "No Justice, No Peace"?
The Miami Herald, which first broke the story (subscriber-only link), explains that as a result of the challenge, four of the five titles the parent was unhappy about were placed on the middle school shelves at one school that houses kindergarten through 8th grade, but not removed entirely — just de facto unavailable to kids up to fifth grade. Stephana Ferrell, director of research and insight for Florida Freedom to Read, told the Herald that moving the books
underscores a growing trend to redefine what is considered age appropriate, “especially regarding books that address ethnicities, marginalized communities, racism or our history of racism.”
“Books written for students grades K-5 are being pushed to middle school [libraries and] out of reach for the students they were intended for,” she said. The books aren’t being banned from the district, she argued, “but they’re banned for the students they were intended for.”
Before you know it, schools will be insisting that moving the Gay Penguin book to county nursing homes isn't censorship, it's simply about making it available to an "appropriate" age group.
The Herald spoke to Daily Salinas, who is not a newspaper in California but actually the parent who complained about the poem and other titles, and who wanted them removed "from the total environment," although she also said she isn't for censorship, no, not at all. In addition to "The Hills We Climb," she objected to four other titles, The ABCs of Black History,Cuban Kids,Countries in the News: Cuba, and Love to Langston,all four of which are aimed at elementary school readers.
After the Herald story published, the Florida Freedom to Read Project posted to Twitter the complaint forms for the four books, in which Salinas complained the Cuba books indoctrinated students with "socialism" and "communism" because duh, it's Cuba and "Castros are the dictators." The other two books have Black people in them, so they are of course filled with "CRT" and "indoctrination," because little kids are ripe for critical race theory, the law school area of study. Also, The ABCs of Black History allegedly includes both "CRT and Gender Ideology," whatever that might mean to Ms. Salinas.
A review committee examined the books and found that none of them were guilty of "indoctrination," hooray, but the committee also decided that only one book, Countries in the News: Cuba, was "balanced and age appropriate in its wording and presentation," so it could stay in the elementary section of the library. The other four were found to be "more appropriate" for middle schoolers, although how exactly that was determined seems iffy.
The committee sent Gorman's poem to the middle school shelves because its "vocabulary" was "of value to middle school students"; it was also found to be "of historical value" and therefore not too indoctrinatey.
Despite Love to Langston being labeled for ages 8 to 11, it too was sent up to middle school, because the "content and subject matter of poems in this collection were determined to be better suited to middle school students." The poetry, we'll add, is by the author, Tony Medina, as a biography in verse of Langston Hughes. Maybe it's just too incendiary for nine-year-olds. The content in Cuban Kids was also found to be better for middle schoolers, although it's mostly just a collection of, as the title says, photos of kids in Cuba.
Finally, the most absurd decision sent a freaking alphabet book, The ABCs of Black History, to the middle school shelves, with the bizarre logic that
although the book's illustrations, presentations, and book jacket indicate this book was written for ages 5 and up, the [committee] determined the vocabulary and subject matter presented was more appropriate for middle school students.
We all know how jazzed kids in grades six through eight are about learning their ABCs, or perhaps in the minds of the committee, their BLMs and their ACABs.
So let's all celebrate that instead of being banned, these works have been relegated to the middle school shelves of the library, where only the Gorman poem is likely to ever be picked up by an actual student. (Have you met middle schoolers? They tend to react to anything they think is for little kids like it was Kyryptonite Jr.)
The Herald asked Ms. Salinas, who is not for censorship, what she thought of the decision to retain one book in the elementary section and move the others to the middle school section. She wasn't too happy, saying that
the books should have been removed for all students. School libraries are meant “to support the curriculum of the school and I don’t see how these books support the curriculum,” she said.
And finally, we should note that, according to a Twitter thread, with photos, posted by "Miami Against Fascism," Ms. Salinas isn't only a would-be schoolbook censor who rallies with Moms for Liberty/Censorship; she's also attended Proud Boys events and appears to have posted to Facebook a summary of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," so that's nice.
[NBC News / Miami Herald (subscribers only) / Florida Freedom to Read Project / WaPo (gift link) / Amanda Gorman on Twitter / Florida Freedom To Read Project on Twitter]
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Ohio Higher Ed Bill Requires Equal Time For Climate Change Deniers, Racists
There's an oil barge winding through the Ohio Legislature.
The Ohio state Legislature is taking its own shot at eliminating all the liberal indoctrination Republicans are certain is running amok in universities, with a bill that not only prohibits most diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and "implicit bias" training, but also requires that instructors not promote any particular view on any "controversial topic" like climate change, diversity, abortion, or foreign policy, among others. The bill has already passed in the state Senate, and is now being considered in the state House, which has a Republican supermajority. The official title of Senate Bill 83 is the "Higher Education Enhancement Act," but I'm just going to call it the Flat Earth Equal Time Act if you don't mind.
For all "controversial "topics, instructors would be required to "allow and encourage students to reach their own conclusions" and "shall not seek to inculcate any social, political, or religious point of view." Should be fun when a student sues to have openly white supremacist materials included in a syllabus. Or an oil company sues over climate science being taught accurately.
When he introduced SB 83 in March, state Sen. Jerry Cirino (R-Did We Have To Say?) explained that
it was his idea to include climate change as a “controversial” belief or policy, and that he “didn’t actually consult with climate people.”.
“My agenda was not to use this bill to impact energy policy,” Cirino said. However, he also said, “What I think is controversial is different views that exist out there about the extent of the climate change and the solutions to try to alter climate change.”
So yeah, that translates to "let's not actually limit greenhouse emissions, because as the copyrighted 2009 cartoon by Joel Pett in USA Today asked, 'What if it's a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing?'"
Naturally enough, actual scientists are aghast at the bill, pointing out that there really is no "other side" to the fact that humans have caused global warming by burning fossil fuels, which add carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, causing dangerous heating of the planet. There also isn't any actual controversy over what's needed: We need to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions — and eliminate them altogether — as quickly as possible.
There are plenty of discussions about the best way to achieve that goal, which we suppose may fit Cirino's suggestion that there's "controversy" over "the solutions to try to alter climate change," but not a single one of the options includes "keep burning coal and oil." Really!
Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, warned that if the law is enacted, it's "going to have a chilling effect" on science education, since many instructors might decide it's safer to not say much about climate change at all if they think they have to include climate denial nonsense and "alternative" views. Jeez, you scientists, isn't some chilling exactly what we need to counteract all this warming?
The bill's language is particularly vague and circular when it comes to even defining what topics are "controversial" and in need of both-sidesing in classes. It specifies some, but the language is very open-ended:
"Controversial belief or policy" means any belief or policy that is the subject of political controversy, including issues such as climate policies, electoral politics, foreign policy, diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, immigration policy, marriage, or abortion.
Got it? A controversial topic is any topic that "is the subject of political controversy," so tread carefully and include all sides. Including, we guess, advocacy of plural marriage and mandatory abortion? And of course, many evangelicals consider evolution controversial, so Ohio biology curricula could be in for a surprise.
Hilariously, though, another provision of the bill makes clear that some "foreign policy" matters should have only one side, since it limits a wide range of cooperative agreements with China, and specifies that Ohio universities "may endorse the congress of the United States when it establishes a state of armed hostility against a foreign power."
Another section of the bill shoehorns in the now-familiar cookie-cutter prohibitions on "divisive concepts" that must not be taught, like the very ideas of inherent bias, white privilege, or systemic racism.
Previously In The Syllabus:
Georgia Schoolchildren Will Just Have To Learn All History From Confederate Statues
David Duke Thanks Tucker Carlson For Spreading 'Great Replacement' Lie
Federal Judge Stops DeSantis's 'Stop WOKE' Law, Because ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING HIM
The bill's multi-pronged attack on diversity, equity, equity, and inclusion also led to widespread condemnation, obviously, because most university faculty, students, and officials aren't consumers of rightwing media who are worried about the Great Replacement conspiracy theory.
That said, Dayton TV station WKRC did manage to scrape up one professor at the University of Cincinnati, criminologist John Paul Wright, who fretted about the school's diversity and inclusion webpage, and who claimed he heard a colleague say they "will never hire another white male." Dude is a proponent of some seriously racist "science," and has called for more research on "the role biology plays in criminal behavior." I'd say that this guy and his calipers account for all the "intellectual diversity" Ohio universities can stand, honestly.
Shortly before the Ohio Senate passed it, The Board of Trustees of The Ohio State University officially opposed SB 83, stating that it raised First Amendment issues and warning that it could harm the university's ability to "attract the best students, faculty, and researchers." It further said the bill could affect "the quality of higher education at all Ohio public universities," even the ones that don't insist on having a capitalized definite article in their names.
During debate on the bill, however, Cirino insisted Ohio wouldn't experience any such brain drain, and would actually make Ohio schools more gooder by attracting ... well, people with calipers, basically:
“When all is said and done here, our universities are going to be better,” he said. “We are going to attract more people who have been turned away because of the liberal bias that is incontrovertible in our institutions in Ohio.”
In addition to the gross limitations on academic freedom, which are lawsuit bait if we ever saw it, just like Ron DeSantis's "Stop WOKE" law, SB 83 would ban strikes by academic workers, require all students to take a course in American history of government — presumably, only the GOOD parts — cut the terms of university and college boards of trustees so they can be replaced by patriots, and would weaken tenure protections.
And if it passes in the state House, will GOP Governor Mike DeWine sign it? How's this for some impressive waffling? Earlier this month, before it passed in the Senate, DeWine simply said it was still "a work in progress" and that "I have not seen the latest version." Sounds to us like he wants to follow the spirit of the bill and not take any particular position at all. We'd like to hope the near-universal condemnation of the bill, which will dumb down another great university system, might put his feet to the fire — as long as it's burning green hydrogen, of course.
[Ohio Senate Bill 83 / Ohio Capitol Journal / USA Today / Ohio Capitol Journal]
Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 a month so we can keep you up to date on the vast wave of stupid in this country. And remember, the Wonkette Book Club is reading Kim Stanley Robinson's 2020 climate novel The Ministry for the Future,so join us Friday to chat about Chapters 2 through 30 (they're short chapters!) More details and Part One of our book club discussion here!