Revisions of the AP African American Studies framework were made for the wrong reasons

The Beacon Staff

On Wednesday, February 1 (notably the first day of Black History Month), a revised version of the AP African American Studies (APAAS) curriculum was released by the College Board. These changes made modern topics like Black Lives Matter optional, increased the emphasis on white collaboration in the Civil Rights Movement, and added Black conservatism as a research topic. While these edits are relevant to the class, it feels as though the reasons they were added weren’t the right ones: namely lessening white guilt and perpetuating negative generalizations held by many. These changes were seemingly made in response to concerns raised by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other conservatives around the country. These critics expressed concern about the effect that ‘Critical Race Theory’—which they claim to be present in the curriculum—would have on the students in the class. We find these claims to be baseless, and their role in diluting the APAAS curriculum will only harm students. 

African American studies is incredibly important and meaningful to people in both our school and our community, and very overdue in the AP curriculum. Drawing from the beginnings of the African Diaspora to the current day, the course combines economics, literature, and history to teach many students through a lens other than their own. For African American students, this class has provided a rare opportunity to dive deeper into the shared history of their community. 

Fear mongering about Critical Race Theory only serves to prevent productive conversations about race. A class on African American culture and history is not something to be shut down, but rather it is something to be celebrated. There needs to be a universal understanding that there are parts of history that are going to make people uncomfortable and we cannot shy away from discomfort by simply avoiding those concepts. In order to move our country forward in a more equitable way, we first have to learn about all of the things—good and bad—that led us to where we are today. 

Recent debates around the presence of ‘controversial’ topics in education have exacerbated divides around the nation. Any movement towards the censoring of truth in education is a loss for the young people in this country. It is fully unacceptable that these changes are being made, and as high school students we demand that those in power begin to respect our right to learn things that—as hard as they may be to face in the moment—are crucial to our becoming productive and informed members of society. •