We’re just a week away from Black History Month, and of course, the relentless attacks on Black history continue. Thanks to Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida, it’s time to revisit the ongoing “woke critical race theory” discourse.
If you haven’t heard, Gov. DeSantis recently directed the Florida Department of Education to ban an Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course. Gov. DeSantis has claimed the course teaches critical race theory, and therefore, will indoctrinate students with “woke” ideology.
Every sane person knows that an AP African American Studies class is just that: a normal history class. Somehow, a faction of the political punditry started to falsely equate Blackness with “woke, political ideology.”
As we said in our most recent blog on the CRT debate, it’ the newest anti-Black and -Brown fear tool. There is no legitimate reason Florida high school students shouldn’t be able to take an AP African American Studies class.
The reality is that everyone, Black and non-Black students alike, would benefit from learning an accurate account of our history. Black students deserve the opportunity to take an AP class on their history, just as other students can take Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, or European history and culture classes.
It’s quite ironic Gov. DeSantis laments “indoctrination” while simultaneously denying students the opportunity to learn about topics he doesn’t like. If it’s bad for students to be indoctrinated, shouldn’t multiple ideological viewpoints be available to them? What good comes from banning a Black history class and denying students educational opportunities?
The state presented six reasons for denying the curriculum – two of the most prominent being queer and abolitionist educational themes among others like intersectionality and reparations. Additionally, the criticism wrongly discounted several incredible Black academics like bell hooks, Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, and others.
The piece of the equation that doesn’t add up is the fact that the curriculum is for an Advanced Placement course – one which older and advanced high school students would take. When Florida implemented the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, also dubbed as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, politicians were concerned about elementary students learning about complex topics like sexuality. That isn’t the case here; high school students are plenty old enough to learn about difficult topics.
Students learn by using higher-order thinking skills to understand complex issues, and it’s good for them to learn about difficult or controversial topics. There’s a plethora of information and data showing diversity in education is positively impactful.
Overall, it’s shameful to ban an entire class based on fear of complex topics and Black academics’ work teaching our history. We will not relent in our belief that America’s youth deserve to learn an accurate and whole account of history, no matter the difficulty of the conversation.