DeSantis criticized for mandating Asian American history while banning courses on ‘systemic racism’

A new law in Florida mandates the teaching of Asian American and Pacific Islander history in public schools. But many Asian Americans are not celebrating, pointing to how other marginalized communities are being affected by the state heavily limiting the instruction of systemic racism and gender identity in the classroom. 

Asian American academics and civil rights organizations are speaking out after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill last week, requiring that Asian American and Pacific Islander history to be included in the K-12 curriculum. The measure coincides with another bill signed into law on Monday to no longer permit public colleges to  spend money on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. It also limits the way race and gender will be taught in the state’s higher education institutions.

Manjusha P. Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, similarly noted that Asian American experiences cannot be separated from that of Black, Indigenous and other groups, calling into question what “version” of history will be taught in schools. 

Kulkarni said: “We cannot address racism and hate in a silo. We know that our communities are interconnected.”

She added that the history mandate also coincides with DeSantis’ signing of SB264, a law that in part prohibits Chinese nationals who do not have U.S. citizenship from buying property or land in the state. 

“DeSantis and the Florida officials are not truly interested in seeing our full humanity. And that raises further questions about what the bill signing of AAPI history means,” she said.