Statement on C19 Conference in Florida
Dear C19 friends and colleagues,
The Florida state legislature recently passed two bills aimed at silencing educators, marginalizing LGBTQ children and families, outlawing programs intended to foster diversity, equity and inclusion in workplaces and educational institutions, and erasing American history. One of these bills (SB 148/HB 7), in line with the manufactured outrage around “critical race theory,” criminalizes the teaching or discussion of structural or historical racism, or anything that could cause a (presumably white individual student or employee) to “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.” The other, HB 1557, prohibits any mention of sexual orientation and gender identity in K-3 educational settings, and vaguely gestures toward the idea that discussion of sex and gender may always be found to be age-inappropriate. As educators and scholars, we are appalled by these measures, and we imagine many of you are as well.
If you will be participating in the C19 “Reconstructions” conference, you may be feeling ambivalent about traveling to or spending money in Florida under the circumstances. At this time, no major organization has called for a tourism boycott in response to these measures, and it remains not practical nor financially feasible for C19 to change locations. However, you can still express your opposition to these measures by learning more about the critical advocacy work of the many Florida-based anti-racism and LGBTQ+ rights organizations and supporting them, if you so choose. Our local site coordinators, Martha Schoolman and John Funchion along with C19 member Dana Luciano have created a list of these organizations (located below), of which a number are based in or have chapters in Miami-Dade County.
We look forward to seeing many of you in Coral Gables for further conversation about how we as members of C19 can promote pro-justice, anti-racist and LGBTQ+-affirmative work in Florida and elsewhere. One crucial aspect of these discussions will be our C19Now! plenary with Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Committee, which will focus on his historic success in reversing felony disenfranchisement in Florida as well as the ongoing effort to restore citizenship rights to former felons even in the current repressive environment in the Florida state government. Meade’s now nationally-recognized leadership is a powerful example of the important justice work being done in Florida.
Thank you for your consideration.
Safe travels, and we look forward to welcoming you to the conference very soon,
President, C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists