As part of a recently passed African American history standards initiative, Florida public schools will now teach students that some Black people benefitted from slavery because it taught them useful skills. It’s not the only one of its kind.

“That was shocking to people because they understood that that was minimizing what enslavement was all about. But the whole point ... of anti-wokeness is to fundamentally change the story of the continuing relevance of enslavement and segregation,” Kimberlé Crenshaw said on Boston Public Radio Monday.

Crenshaw, the co-founder and executive director of the African American Policy Forum, says that many members of the public see the topline problems of censorship, but they don’t see how deep the problems go. Recognizing the intersectionality of the issues of race, gender and ideology, she says, is key to addressing the ongoing attacks on diversity, equity and inclusion — and Black history, in particular — in education.

It’s an issue she also sees in colleges, such as the recent affirmative action ruling from the Supreme Court that dictated universities can no longer use race-conscious admissions. So far this year, 40 bills have been introduced across the country restricting colleges from having offices and staff devoted to diversity, equity and inclusion. Of those, seven have become law in North Dakota, Tenneesse, Florida and Texas.

As more bills aimed at restricting diversity efforts in schools and the teaching of Black American history are proposed in statehouses across the nation, Crenshaw says these measures' effects will last far longer than the politcians who introduced them.

"It chills teachers not to teach this material. That is still going to be on the books. That will last long after we don't even remember who [Gov. Ron] DeSantis was. That's what we have to wake up to," Crenshaw said. "It's not just about 2024, it's really about the rest of this century."

Crenshaw created the concept of intersectionality and is one of the scholars behind critical race theory. Critical race theory is, in part, an academic framework to look at institutional racial bias rather than individual actors. In many corners, critical race theory — often shortened as CRT — has become an imprecise catchall for ideas or parts of American history that some would rather not see taught in schools.

But the exact definition doesn't matter, according to Crenshaw. She said that right-wing outrage over CRT is less about the specific material being taught and more about the loss of identity among white individuals.

"Most of those people who are upset, going to a school board meeting, saying 'I don't want CRT in schools' — they couldn't define that. Racial justice, diversity, they couldn't define it. But they don't have to. All they need to do is be wound up with the message that: this is something that's taking something away from you," Crenshaw said. "It's getting people upset about what they feel they're personally losing. And it's not necessarily material, it could be psychological. It is: 'We [white people] are no longer the center of American story, we have to share it with other people — and we have to share it with other stories.'"

In Feburary, after backlash from conservatives, the College Board expunged the topics of intersectionality, critical race theory, the queer experience and more from its new Advanced Placement course in African American Studies. The move was highly criticized by civil rights advocates, including Crenshaw, and the College Board later walked it back in April.

"We need to not racially appease. We need to realize that there's a long connection between racism and fascism and anti-Blackness — we're seeing it play out now," Crenshaw said.

She says that putting up resistance to restrictions on Black education is vital.

"We need to recognize that when we see the likes of DeSantis, and others, coming after modest changes in the story that we tell about ourselves, that is calling us to defend the full narrative of the U.S. They're coming after those of us who value a multiracial democracy, so we need to show up as well," she said.

Crenshaw will be participating in a panel Tuesday in Boston during the annual NAACP convention.