College Board Caves and Revises A.P. African American Studies Course After Backlash From the Right
The new curriculum has removed Black Lives Matter and prominent queer writers. It also suggests “Black conservatism” as an additional research topic for students.
The College Board on Wednesday released an updated curriculum for its new Advanced Placement African American Studies course—and now missing are many Black writers and scholars on intersectionality, critical race theory, the queer experience, and Black feminism. Black Lives Matter is now optional in the new curriculum.
The New York Times first reported the news, which comes at the start of Black History Month.
The revision comes after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he wouldn’t allow the A.P. course in state schools, calling an earlier draft of the curriculum “woke indoctrination.” DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education specifically named six topics they took issue with: Black Queer Studies, Intersectionality, the Movement for Black Lives, Black Feminist Literary Thought, The Reparations Movement, and Black Struggle in the 21st Century. (He also complained that queer theory has nothing to do with Black history and is “pushing an agenda on our kids.”)
Many experts on those topics are now gone: bell hooks, the feminist writer and author of Feminism Is for Everybody; Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, a Columbia University law professor and pioneering scholar on critical race theory; Roderick Ferguson, a professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Yale University; and Ta-Nehisi Coates, the author and journalist who wrote the definitive case for reparations for slavery and the National Book Award–winning Between the World and Me.
In a new curriculum, the College Board also suggests “Black conservatism” as an optional research topic for students.
David Coleman, the head of the College Board, told The New York Times that the changes were not due to political pressure. “At the College Board, we can’t look to statements of political leaders,” he said. The changes came from “the input of professors” and “longstanding A.P. principles.”
DeSantis’s criticism of the A.P. course seemed to be a preview of the Florida governor’s attack on education. On Tuesday, he vowed to defund diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at state colleges and suggested requiring students to take a course on Western civilization.
As The New Republic’s Tori Otten wrote:
It’s part of a larger war the governor is waging against “woke culture.” This includes signing a law limiting what professors can teach about race and another that would require tenured faculty to receive performance reviews every five years. If they are not up to standards, which have not been specified yet, they could be let go (defeating the purpose of tenure). DeSantis has also blocked high schools from teaching an A.P. African American studies class.