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Black Student Sitting at Classroom Desk Doing Coursework
Op-Ed July 24, 2023

AP African American Studies and Critical Race Theory Ban in Florida

Black Student Sitting at Classroom Desk Doing Coursework

The contributions Black people and people of African descent have made to this country are paramount and omnipresent. To consider yourself educated on American history is to consider yourself knowledgeable on Black history; the goal The College Board aims for, but is sorely falling short of. Let's be clear–the organization is falling short because of its seemingly large appetite to conform to Florida's anti-democratic and anti-Black policies, in the name of ensuring "the course best reflects this dynamic discipline." Yikes. To survive and participate fully in democracy, education must serve as a trusted backbone for society — this is not what we have now. In respecting students' learning environment while also pursuing excellence in academia, The College Board should follow the lead of this country's top organizations like NAACP and reject the narrow interpretation of Florida law that contradicts principles of academic freedom and autonomy in determining what to teach in classrooms.

The attacks on AP African American studies and CRT stem from deeply rooted racist ties to education. Chattel slavery stripped enslaved Africans of their native language and refused to allow our ancestors the chance to learn English or use most curriculum available; Jim Crow laws prevented Black children access to a better education afforded to white children, in the name of "separate but equal", among other things; Brown v. Board of Ed. gathered community in Topeka, KS under the NAACP and soon-to-be Justice Thurgood Marshall '33, to use the power of the law to advocate for the simple right to education for Black people; the list goes on. The main idea is that this fight for education justice is not new, but Florida officials have taken a new approach to their blatantly prejudiced policy. Removing lessons on intersectionality, Black queer studies, Black feminism, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and reparations are going to be a costly move by officials in Florida because of how critical all these topics are to everyone–regardless of race–in today's society. Intersectionality teaches us about the many connected streams of injustices across social, political, and economic barriers and underscores solidarity and what we, as activists, call a verb; working communal support towards a joint liberation. To dive into African American studies, organizations like the National Black Justice Coalition led by Dr. David Johns teaches us that we're also diving into a very queer, very LGBTQIA+ history, where we often find our leaders, movements, and organizations to identify in association. Black feminism in the context of African American studies teaches both the acknowledgment and realization that Black women are facing a duality of oppression, being both Black and a woman concurrently in America ("The most disrespected person in America, is the Black woman" - Malcolm X). The Black Lives Matter movement unequivocally changed the world and the lens through which people view politics and political moments like this one. African American studies would do a disservice to students (anywhere) by not including the work done after the very tragic murders of, our now ancestors,

Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, etc., which includes the attempt of restitution, through reparations. The omission of the aforementioned points in the curricula of AP African studies serves as a dereliction of the mission of The College Board and only strengthens the argument of a political influence by Ron Desantis and the Florida officials who obtusely follow.

The reason we stand in coalition to reject these bans and this extremist agenda is because of the irreparable effects it will have on young people, specifically young, Black, and LGBTIA+ identifying persons. Gov. Desantis banning CRT and AP African American studies truly shows the capricious nature of right-wing extremists; there is no organization, just so-called leaders seizing the opportunity to deny a generation of people their right to a free and fair education. It's more than infuriating — it's enraging for Gen Z and young people to continuously see our livelihoods and elements of it, like education, be shorthanded and misrepresented by extremist and out-of-touch leaders with (almost laughable) presidential agendas. It's critical now for Gen Z and people in academia to know that this isn't a small injustice. This wages a war on how we think critically, engage with each other and lead using our education.

Myles Hollingsworth

President, NAACP New York State Youth & College Division

Derrick Lewis - Youth & College Hero

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