“The Stop Woke Act”: HB 7, Race, and Florida’s 21st Century Anti-Literacy Campaign



Florida’s Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act (Stop WOKE) took effect July 1, 2022. The new law, known as House Bill 7 (HB 7), regulates how race issues can be taught in the K-20 educational system and imposes stiff sanctions for violations. This Article provides an incisive analysis of HB 7. With a particular focus on the law school classroom, the Article argues that HB 7 is a modern-day anti-literacy law. It begins with a discussion of anti-literacy laws adopted during slavery and how these laws prohibited enslaved Blacks from learning to read and write. The historical analysis establishes that HB 7 is a twenty-first century iteration of antebellum anti-literacy laws. While early anti-literacy laws prohibited basic literacy, HB 7 prohibits teaching substantive literacy about race. Anti-literacy provides a framework for understanding the breadth and impact of HB 7. This Article investigates HB 7 through the lenses of racial threat and critical race theory and consequently helps predict and explain legislative responses such as HB 7. Through a series of hypotheticals, the far-reaching problems of HB 7 are revealed. At full bore, HB 7 will drastically reduce race-related instruction and in doing so, disempower race scholarship and race scholars in the state of Florida.

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