Critical Race Theory/AP African American Studies Backlash

The history of racism and injustice towards African-Americans runs deep in the United States. Amid the social justice uprisings and the rising importance of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, the College Board deemed it appropriate to develop a course that would outline the extensive history and culture of African-Americans. This course was originally supposed to incorporate critical race theory, an academic concept that studies how racism is woven within many government policies and legal systems. The implementation of a class with elements of critical race theory would educate those on discriminatory policies that date back to the early to mid-1900s, like “redlining,” which was used to prevent Black homeowners from settling in certain “richer” neighborhoods. 

College Board officially announced the creation of this holistic course on African-American history in August 2022. The development of this course was met with much praise and appreciation by many notable figures in the community, but recently, when the official curriculum of the course was released, many criticized its foundations. One notable figure who publicly voiced his disapproval from the beginning is Governor Ronald DeSantis, the governor of Florida. He said he would ban this course in Florida because of its “problematic” ideals like BLM, black queer studies, intersectionality, and notable black female authors. The College Board just recently released a pilot version of the course on Feb. 1, which revealed the omissions of the same curricula that Gov. DeSantis criticized. This was met with extreme backlash, and critics are now questioning the College Board’s motives and their crack under political pressure. The College Board claimed their revisions had nothing to do with DeSantis’ statement, but some are skeptical. 

Many are excited that the College Board took the initiative to create a course so culturally rich and central to the experience of many African-American students; however, with the key elements they have decided to take away, some argue it won’t be the same. The omission of more recent elements like Black Lives Matter and the protests of the lives lost demonstrates the plight of African-Americans in America. Why would the College Board want to eliminate this from the curriculum? It would be logical to include African-American topics of study from slavery to the time in which they created the course, 2022. To eradicate this crucial part of history would be doing a disservice to Dr. King, a civil rights activist who advocated peaceful protests, and Malcolm X, who was intent on black empowerment. It would be offensive to victims like Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin who were senselessly killed by racial motives, and it would insult those young activists who continue the fight today like Nupol Kiazolu and Vanessa Warri. The history of African-Americans in this country runs deep and every part of it should be acknowledged and articulated effectively to educate the upcoming generation. As Barbara Post-Askin remarked, “Only if we understand our past, can we move forward to a brighter future.”