Can you think back to those early years of middle school when history class was simple. Filled with movies, pop-corn readings, and fun activities meant for 6th graders to grasp the concept of the colonial period and the American revolution? I sure do, because personally history has always been my favorite subject. Since a young age I’ve been fascinated with the monumental events of the past that has brought us here today. Learning about the baffling details of how dreadful indigenous people were treated has always been something I’ve found important to be educated on. Not only me, but every person that came after said events. I’ve always seen it as important not only because we should acknowledge who/what has brought us here today, but also to prevent some of those disastrous events from happening ever again.
This is why I was not happy to hear that last month the state of Florida, specifically Governor Ron DeSantis, denied a new AP African American Studies course created by college board, to be taught in Florida schools. The root of this denial comes from the Stop WOKE Act signed into law last year in the state of Florida. This “prohibits instruction on race relations or diversity that imply a person’s status as either privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, national origin, or sex. (link on shoutout)”. Quite contradicting if you ask me. This act denies the concept of history itself if we’re going leave out the details of how certain races were privileged while others were oppressed. At the end of the day this act doesn’t make sense to me because history class has always been about being informed and educated about the past, not about people blaming and accusing one another in the classroom.
Since this is how Florida chooses to view history classes, they will find no exception with College Board’s new curriculum including “readings from many major African American scholars, activists and writers, who explored subjects like Black queer studies, Black feminist literary thought, the reparations movement and intersectionality”, according to the New York Times. It’s like they’re trying to take the “black” out of “black studies”. By stripping the importance of African American culture students can’t nearly get the full education of an advanced placement course that’s meant to prepare them for college level classes. Mind you, many universities and colleges teach African American studies courses, so why can’t Florida high schools? On top of this, after the Florida Department of Education expressed their complaints about the curriculum, College Board published a revised version that settled with almost all of their objections on February 1st.
A step forwards or backwards?
The idea of this controversy is genuinely upsetting. Just in August of last year, the black community was thrilled to hear that the first AP African American studies course was coming in the new year, only to be disappointed by College Board’s effort to represent them with justice. As a black woman it’s hard for me to get past the fact that not only Florida, but a nationally recognized organization that fosters higher education for my generation has taken a step backwards in time, when given the chance to move forwards. More importantly it sets a bad example for incoming college students who use this organization as a guide for a future.
Instead of ending on a note that shuts down this discussion, I think it’s important to note that Florida is the only state with these school regulations that deny their students from learning a full history education. Why should one state dictate college board’s decision for this curriculum?