Educators, parents, and students across the country were taken aback after news broke that Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis, blocked the teaching of the newly introduced AP African American studies course in Floridian schools. In a recent press conference, DeSantis spoke on why exactly he plans to block the course.“We have guidelines and standards in Florida,” he said. “We want education, not indoctrination” DeSantis went on to state that topics a part of the AP African American Studies curriculum such as queer theory, intersectionality, and abolishing prisons are “pushing an agenda on our kids.” DeSantis’ decision to block AP African American studies comes only a year after he signed the Stop WOKE Act, which restricts conversations concerning race in workplaces, colleges, and schools all across Florida (the passing of this bill is still being battled in court). DeSantis is completely against the discussion of any matter concerning the issues or struggles of people of color, given that he has no problem with AP European History being taught in Floridian schools.
Students took to social media in outrage over DeSantis’ ruling, reposting the story from major news outlets, and sharing their opinions on the matter. Saskia Ivery, a first-year psychology major at Howard University argued, “It’s a true reflection of how the education system in America is truly flawed.” Ivery went on to speak about the consequences of the rejection of the course. “The consequences are going to be reflected in the youth… If the ban spreads to other schools and other states, that would just amplify the damage already done by banning it (the course) to begin with.”
Students in Florida have gone even further than stating their opinions online. Three Floridian students have threatened to sue both the state of Florida and Governor DeSantis if AP African Studies is not allowed to be taught in schools. According to ABC News, the students are being backed by several civil rights attorneys who spoke at a press conference concerning the AP course this past Wednesday. “If he (DeSantis) does not negotiate with the College Board to allow AP African American studies to be taught in classrooms across the state of Florida, these three young people will be the lead plaintiffs,” says attorney Ben Crump. Black students are serious about their education, especially when it comes to African American Studies. For so long, the school system has only told one side of history (the white/European side). AP African American Studies is a chance for students across the nation to be educated completely on the heritage, culture, and history of Black people. DeSantis, along with many other Republicans in power, wishes to take this incredible opportunity away.
Shortly after DeSantis announced the ban, the state of Florida published a list of concerns it had with the AP African American Studies course. The list included the teaching of intersectionality, activism, Black queer history, the Black Lives Matter movement, reparations, and criticism of capitalism. In order to have a course about African American history, all of these topics are crucial. How can you talk about African Americans while excluding Black Lives Matter, which was one of the biggest social justice movements of this generation? By rejecting the option for students to take this course, the state of Florida is contributing to the erasure of Black history. Black students need the resources of this course to learn more about their heritage, and the people who paved the way for them in modern-day America. It is equally important for non-Black students to be able to take this course to understand the perspective and struggle of Black people in America.
I will never forget when my AP US History teacher made my class play a trivia game about Black history during my junior year of high school. The class was filled with a majority of white students, except for me and one other student. I was shocked when several of my white classmates leaned over and asked, “Wait, who’s Malcolm X?” At the end of the game, me and my other Black classmate won first and second place easily. DeSantis’ blocking of AP African American studies will most likely lead to many other Republican-led states rejecting the course, continuing this dangerous precedent of ignorance onto another generation of high schoolers.
By Amaar Zarrieff, Freshman, Howard University
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