Florida Man, What Are You Doing?

Gov. DeSantis speaks on February 28, regarding extension of rural infrastructure.

Anthony Izaguirre with Associated Press

Gov. DeSantis speaks on February 28, regarding extension of rural infrastructure.

Chase Kim, Photojournalist

Florida gets a bit of a knock for being odd. Rarely do you see a “California Man” involved in some strange activity; nay, it’s always a man from the state of Florida trading a live alligator for beer, or throwing pancake batter, or attacking people with a rake while naked (all real). Maybe, then, considering this, it’s no surprise that Florida’s state government has recently been the victim of widespread ridicule from national media regarding its recent actions.

Governor DeSantis’s actions have prompted disgust, anger, and maybe even a little respect for his undeniable guts… all mixed into one. In this way, Governor DeSantis’s actions differ little from the actions of his constituents, the ever-popular Florida Man. And as thus, I’ve given Gov. DeSantis a little headline of my own:

Florida Man, What’s Going On In Your State?

As a Californian, the effects of Gov. DeSantis’s decisions will never affect me, so long as I should not move to Florida. However, from the other side of the country, I can’t stop and wonder about what in the world is going on in Florida.

Much like our very own school district (PYLUSD), Florida has taken a strong stance against the teaching of Critical Race Theory in classrooms–but they’ve tacked on another implementation of the action. On April 22, DeSantis signed into action the “Stop WOKE Act,” targeting the ideology that individuals are “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive.” DeSantis said last Friday, “we will not let the far-left woke agenda take over our schools and workplaces.”

It’s a bit painful to see the word “woke” weaponized in such a way, when it entails such a positive thing. The definition, by Merriam-Webster, is “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues…especially issues of racial and social justice.” This is a good thing. Being “woke” means that as a society, we’ve come to realize the historical transgressions of our ancestors and have begun to move into a future as a people. We can’t reasonably be expected to see progress otherwise, because the first step in change is recognition. And yet–this word is being weaponized by the far-right in a sarcastic manner, undermining and demeaning the work of past social warriors. Being “woke” isn’t something we should be using to insult people, it should be something that is celebrated.

Thinking just about the name of this bill, then, not even delving within the legislative implications of it, Gov. DeSantis has already offended millions of Americans by suggesting that waking up from the Matrix is somehow inherently bad. In attempting to avoid saying that an individual is inherently racist, Gov. DeSantis is being–inherently racist by refusing to make a move to match the 21st century.

The contents and implementations of the act, so far, have also proven to be nonsensical. In a sensational media day, Florida rejected 54 math textbooks, citing that they promoted a racist agenda. Following the controversy, they released examples of CRT in the books. The problems focused on statistics regarding racial bias using the racial Implicit Association Test.

But wait–there’s more.

I’d like to think that most of society trusts experts: so that when an expert in their respective field tells you explicitly not to do something, you, not being an expert, does not do that. Gov. DeSantis is no expert, but he seems to think he is, especially on matters relating to his state’s LGBTQ population.

His “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed earlier this year, and he hammers the same points in the “Stop WOKE Act.” He maintains that teaching a child that “that they can be whatever they want” is “inappropriate” for children, even in the face of clear evidence showing higher suicide rates for LGBTQ youth, and decreased suicide rates when children are given safe spaces to show their gender identity.

But–in the light of this, DeSantis still holds that discussing gender leads to leftist “woke” indoctrination for students, and that must be stopped. 

Gov. DeSantis, at what point does your seeming hatred for liberals end? Does it not stop when a child feels oppressed and unheard? Does it not stop when a LGBTQ child is taught that their identity is “inappropriate?” Is it not selfish to be sacrificing the mental health of your state’s youth just to spite the “woke” Democrats?

And–there’s a little more to this, just to top it all off.

Disney–holding stakes in the Floridian government because of Walt Disney World and its special Reedy Creek Improvement District–expressed disapproval for the passing of the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.” In response, the Governor signed a bill that would effectively eliminate Disney’s independently-governing district.

…it looks like this is just a power play by the Florida Government.”

— Derek Moore (9)

This kind of retaliation hardly seems professional. In the words of Derek Moore (9), “…it looks like this is just a power play by the Florida Government.”

To me, it seems unreasonable to make Disney’s life harder when it provides so much to Florida. Not only does it give Florida unmistakable economic gains: jobs, tax revenue, development–but it also gives Florida undeniable cultural value. Walt Disney World is a global icon, and the Floridian government undermines that through passing this bill.

I’ll be frank: I don’t wish bad upon Gov. DeSantis and I believe him to be a capable leader. In fact, I applaud some of his past work in Florida. But–some of his actions in the past few months leave me confused as to what he’s trying to accomplish. He references the “leftist woke agenda” with little explanation on why that’s inherently bad, and signs into law bills that make little logical sense.

Gov. DeSantis, what’s going on?