In today's climate, there has been a direct attack on politically charged words and phrases, such as anti-racist, Woke, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEIB), and my personal favorite, Critical Race Theory. Although we have seen these words and phrases used to spark debates in school boards, townships, and general public meetings, there is a danger when action is taken to minimize the importance of critically analyzing the impact of bias, prejudice, and discrimination.
Florida Ron DeSantis's law focuses on race and sex.
What is the "Stop Woke Act?"
According to the The Hill, Florida's Governer Ron DeSantis's "Stop Woke Act" (Woke being an acronym for Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees) moves to block any pieces of training or education about race or sex that would make people feel "guilty" or "anguish." On March 10, 2022, Florida House Bill 7/Senate Bill 148 (HB7) set forth to target uncomfortable conversations around race and sex, with a primary focus on employers and schools. The rhetoric around wokeness has moved beyond Florida, but Florida became the first state to pass a law that is being challenged in the courts. In Judge Mark Walker's preliminary injunction, he explained why this law infringes on the constitutional right of free speech, he said.
"[the Stop Work Act] does not target trainings because they are mandatory,” but rather “because of the speech delivered in them.”
Strategies for Justice (SFJ) joins the Brief Of Amici Curiae Policing & Criminal Justice Organizations And Scholars In Support Of The Court's Preliminary Injunction.
On June 23, 2023, Strategies for Justice joins other criminal justice organizations and scholars on the United States Cout of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (Nos. 22-13992 & 22-13994) to argue that,
Educating and training law enforcement on human diversity and implicit biases improve their ability to fulfill their mission, and
the preliminary injunction serves the public interest because the act undermines the ability of law enforcement across Florida to fulfill their critical mission of protecting the public.
We support the district court's preliminary injunction that the "Stop Woke Act" holds significant consequences for law enforcement and the communities they serve. As pointed out in this brief, the Stop Work Act will "negatively impact Florida educators’ ability to prepare students to succeed in their careers—including those in law enforcement.
About the author
Terry Watson is a professional speaker, author, and trainer specializing in disability equity in education, racial justice, and law enforcement. Mr. Watson has more than 15 years of working in higher education and is the founder of Strategies for Justice, the host of Moses' People Speak, and the author of Welcome to the Sick Mind of a Sane Person: Deconstructing Racism and White Supremacy.
Migdon, Brooke. “What Is DeSantis’s “Stop WOKE Act”?” The Hill, 19 Aug. 2022, thehill.com/changing-america/respect/diversity-inclusion/3608241-what-is-desantiss-stop-woke-act/.
Solomon, Cristina Portela, and Kate Pamperin. “Florida’s “Stop Woke” Act Limits the Topics Employers Can Discuss in D&I Training.” The National Law Review, Mar. 2022, www.natlawreview.com/article/florida-s-stop-woke-act-limits-topics-employers-can-discuss-di-training. Accessed 29 June 2023.