What’s Really in the AP African-American Studies Class DeSantis Rejected?
“First, out of more than 100 units, the governor has identified three or four that may sound sketchy to people unfamiliar with the topic. But the focus on this handful of examples creates a highly selective and distorted view of the curriculum.
Second, he describes the class as “history,” when in fact it is an interdisciplinary curriculum that exposes students to college-level subject matter they almost certainly don’t encounter in standard U.S. and world history classes.
Third, and most importantly, the curriculum makes a lot more sense if you consider its topline objective: arming students with a range of analytical and critical thinking skills. If you believe that the purpose of a quality education is to prepare kids to thrive in the real world, the AP African American Studies is a win. The subject matter is rigorous, and the texts and other source material are challenging. Isn’t that exactly what a twenty-first century education should look like?”
“While it is certainly true that Florida students already study some fundamentals of Black history, they are unlikely to learn about African linguistic diversity or how to parse maps of the Songhai Empire in their U.S. or world history courses. They may read excerpts by former enslaved people like Frederick Douglass or Harriet Jacobs, but probably won’t encounter Olaudah Equiano’s captivity narrative, analyze the intersection of European and African art or locate connections between Harlem Renaissance writers like Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes and visual artists like James Van Der Zee and Aaron Douglas. We can fairly intuit that they won’t encounter writing by Black feminists like Nikki Giovanni or parse Molefi Kete Asante’s work on Afrocentricity.
This is no knock against Florida’s public schools. According to its mission statement, the AP curriculum “enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies.” By design, the curriculum operates a level or two above a standard high school program.”
” The first unit, “Origins of the African Diaspora,” offers a bright tapestry of subjects around African culture, history, linguistics, art and economics, as well as the process behind — and experience of — enslavement (including the role of Black Africans in that tragedy). It would require a feat of political gymnastics to find issue with units on “Exploring Africa’s Geographic Diversity,” “Ethnolinguistic Diversity and Bantu Dispersals” or “Visualizing Early Africa.”
The second unit, “Freedom, Enslavement, and Resistance,” is also standard fare, with topics that include “African Explorers in the Americas,” “Origins and Overview of the Transatlantic Slave Trade,” “Fleeing Enslavement” and “Black Women’s Rights & Education.”
And so it goes with the third unit, “The Practice of Freedom,” which covers such topics as Reconstruction, Jim Crow and the early civil rights movement. Notwithstanding the current vogue for banning literature in schools — a troubling development that is hardly specific to Florida — it would take a particularly narrow mind to find fault with modules on “Everyday Life in Literature,” “The Rise and Fall of Harlem” or “Music and the Black National Experience.”
It’s unit four, “Movements and Debates,” that opens the door more than just a crack to conservative criticism, though most of the unit continues the curriculum’s chronological arc, exploring subjects like civil rights, the Black Arts Movement, student protests, Black women’s history, music and religion and faith. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary.
To be sure, many culture warriors will object to topics and texts that strike most people as unproblematic. Voices like Frantz Fanon, Malcolm X, Ta-Nehisi Coates and bell hooks offend the sensibilities of some white Americans. They push the boundaries of the conversation about race in ways that challenge ideas about “American exceptionalism,” progress and national innocence. Similarly, raw representations of white violence against Black persons, families and institutions — be they historical texts, paintings, songs or sociological tracts — make a lot of conservatives uncomfortable. They complain that broaching these subjects teaches white children to feel implicated by the actions of earlier generations. This concern assumes that students are especially brittle and incapable of dealing with the subject matter.
But the back half of unit four also contains topics that may cause some parents — and not just conservatives — to raise an eyebrow: “Intersectionality and Activism,” “Black Queer Studies,” “‘Postracial’ Racism and Colorblindness,” “Incarceration and Abolition,” “Movements for Black Lives” and “The Reparations Movement.” These topics drive at extremely polarizing political debates, including what if anything the country owes its Black citizens, whether the criminal justice system is fair and unbiased and the meaning of sexuality. Even outside an AP course, these are fraught topics.
One need not agree with DeSantis that the AP course is a study in indoctrination to wonder: Why would you teach these topics to 17-year-olds? Are they not in fact … “woke?”
The answer to this last question is a resounding: Yes! Also: So what?”
“They’re complicated works of sociology and philosophy. They’re highly contested polemics. We read them to sharpen our capacity for analysis and argument. Contra Gov. DeSantis, being assigned a text is not an exercise in indoctrination.
How do I know this? Because reading Friedrich Nietzsche in college did not turn me into a nihilist any more than reading Albert Camus made me an existentialist. I read Ross Douthat’s New York Times column regularly, and yet I have neither changed my party affiliation to Republican nor converted to Catholicism.
We expose students to knotty, complicated and controversial ideas because it helps them sharpen the five critical skill sets that the College Board identified in the course prospectus.
If a student takes the AP course on African American Studies and is ultimately able to develop an empirical, well-constructed, knock-down argument against reparations or prison reform, that’s as much of a win as the opposite outcome. I might not like where the student landed, but the curriculum did its job.
That’s the idea behind the AP’s course in African American Studies: use a topic that captures the interest of a large number of students to introduce them to a range of interdisciplinary methodologies and teach them to analyze and make sense of our very complicated world.”
Ethics of Black Identity | Glenn Loury, Robert Woodson, Shelby Steele, Kmele Foster & Reihan Salam
9 States Have Banned Affirmative Action. Here’s What That Looks Like.
“Black enrollment fell rapidly at the top schools in the University of California system. Before the ban, Black students made up 7% of the student body at UCLA. By 1998, that figure had slipped to 3.93%. By the fall of 2006, the freshman class included only 96 Black students out of nearly 5,000.
In an effort to address that gap, officials in California have spent more than $500 million in outreach to underserved minority students since 2004, lawyers for the state said in a Supreme Court brief this year.
A similar decline took place at the University of Michigan. Black undergraduate enrollment dropped to 4% in 2021 from 7% in 2006, the year the state approved a referendum banning affirmative action.
Even though a Supreme Court ruling restricting the use of race-conscious admissions is unlikely to affect their states, lawyers for Michigan and California filed briefs with the court over the summer arguing that without affirmative action, achieving racial diversity was virtually impossible.
Florida, which banned affirmative action in 2001 and where admission to the state’s flagship university is also competitive, has taken the opposite position: Racial diversity can be achieved without race-conscious admissions, it said.
A study in 2012 by liberal-leaning research group the Century Foundation found that in most states where affirmative action was prohibited, Hispanic and Black enrollment at flagship universities bounced back after an initial drop.
But the study also showed that those increases did not generally keep pace with the growing number of Hispanic and Black high school graduates.”
The Supreme Court just handed down very bad news for Black voters
“The Supreme Court handed down a brief order Tuesday evening that effectively reinstates racially gerrymandered congressional maps in the state of Louisiana, at least for the 2022 election.
Under these maps, Black voters will control just one of Louisiana’s six congressional seats, despite the fact that African Americans make up nearly a third of the state’s population. Thus, the Court’s decision in Ardoin v. Robinson means that Black people will have half as much congressional representation as they would enjoy under maps where Black voters have as much opportunity to elect their own preferred candidate as white people in Louisiana.
A federal trial court, applying longstanding Supreme Court precedents holding that the Voting Rights Act does not permit such racial gerrymanders, issued a preliminary injunction temporarily striking down the Louisiana maps and ordering the state legislature to draw new ones that include two Black-majority districts. Notably, a very conservative panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied the state’s request to stay the trial court’s decision — a sign that Louisiana’s maps were such a clear violation of the Voting Rights Act that even one of the most conservative appeals courts in the country could not find a good reason to disturb the trial court’s decision.
As the Fifth Circuit explained, current law typically forbids maps that dilute a particular racial group’s voting power, at least when that group is “sufficiently large and compact to form a majority” in additional congressional districts, when it “votes cohesively” and when “whites tend to vote as a bloc” to defeat the minority group’s preferred candidates.
Nevertheless, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 along party lines to stay the trial court’s injunction, effectively reinstating the gerrymandered maps. The Court’s order is only one page, and it provides no substantive explanation of why the Court’s Republican appointees voted to effectively strip Black Louisianans of half of their representation in the US House of Representatives.”
“Taken together, the Court’s orders in Merrill, Ardoin, and the Wisconsin case suggest that the justices are skeptical of current rules, which provide fairly robust protections against racial gerrymandering, and plan to replace those rules with a new regime that is likely less friendly to Black voters — and most likely to minority voters generally. None of these three orders was particularly well explained, but the pattern is that, in each case, the Court ruled against efforts to draw maps that expand Black political power.”
Black women will suffer the most without Roe
“Black women are more likely to live in areas where it’s harder to access contraception. They get abortions at the highest rates compared to women of other races, due to high rates of unintended pregnancy.
The factors that lead some Black women to seek abortions are present from the day they are born, passed down from mothers who faced similar plights. Those born into poverty are less likely to have access to health care, let alone reproductive or maternal health care; when some Black women are able to seek care, they face medical racism. For centuries, Black women have fought for autonomy over their bodies, against government-sanctioned abuse and abuse from intimate partners. The end of a constitutional right to legal abortion makes the fight harder.
State-level abortion restrictions have already taken effect in at least eight states, and in total, 22 states have laws that impose very strict restrictions on abortions. Those states are home to 39 percent of the total US population, but 45 percent of Black women and girls under age 55.
The consequences will be dire. The end of legal abortion will trap Black women in cycles of poverty. The consequences will also be deadly. Black women have the highest rates of maternal mortality and pregnancy complications, and those risks will only increase if more Black women have to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. Here are the numbers that show how alarming the situation is.”
The Catch-22 Facing Black Voters At The Ballot Box
“The 2022 midterms are approaching and Black voters must choose between the Republican Party, which has actively worked against their interests for decades, and the Democratic Party, which has long struggled to meaningfully address race and racism, as well as issues important to Black voters — such as police reform and federal voting rights legislation.
The sad thing, at least for most Black voters, is it’s an easy choice. In the last 60 years or so, the Democratic Party, despite its many failures, has done far more for Black voters than the GOP. That’s why the vast majority of Black voters cast ballots for Democrats even if they aren’t necessarily liberal themselves. And therein lies the problem: Because Democratic leaders know that most Republican candidates aren’t a truly viable option for Black voters, the Democratic Party doesn’t have much incentive to court members of its most loyal constituency.
As former FiveThirtyEight senior reporter Farai Chideya wrote back in 2016, Black voters are so loyal that they’re considered “captured” — a theory put forth by Paul Frymer, a professor of politics at Princeton University, in a 1999 book titled “Uneasy Alliances: Race and Party Competition in America.” In other words, they’re ignored by one major party and taken for granted by the other.
“In recent elections, there’s normally some sort of conversation around what direction Latino or Asian Americans are going to swing,” said Jennifer Chudy, a professor of political science at Wellesley University. That “reveals the predicament Black voters are in because there’s not even a curiosity surrounding what they’ll do. … And I think they’re unique in that way.””
“Black voters are “captured” not simply because most favor Democrats, but because overt appeals to them are seen as disruptive to the rest of both party’s coalitions. But other voting blocs don’t necessarily experience the same thing. So, for example, Republicans can court white evangelicals because direct overtures to this group — for example, promoting anti-abortion policies, Christian values or legislation against transgender students and athletes — won’t turn off a majority of Republican voters. Certain civil rights issues that would have the greatest impact on Black voters, in contrast, are seen as too taboo to promote because being pro-Black is often conflated with being anti-white. As a result, politicians on both sides of the aisle often ignore Black voters’ concerns because they don’t want to take steps that would either turn off white voters or make it seem like they’re disrupting the existing racial hierarchies of power where white people are at the top.”
Black People Are Leaving Chicago en Masse. It’s Changing the City’s Power Politics.
Black and Hispanic renters experience discrimination in almost every major American city
“In a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, researchers found rampant racial discrimination in American rental markets — specifically, that property managers are less likely to respond to prospective Black and Hispanic tenants when they inquire about open listings.
Using a software bot, the economists sent inquiries from fake renters to 8,476 property managers in the 50 largest US metropolitan housing markets. The bot assigned names to fictitious renters that would indicate whether the race of the inquirer was white, Black, or Hispanic.
The bot found that names perceived to be white got a response 5.6 percentage points more than Black-sounding names, and 2.8 percentage points more than Hispanic-sounding names.”
“You might be familiar with résumé studies where researchers will send in identical résumés with just one thing changed, such as a 2003 study by economists Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan that showed résumés with names perceived as Black received 50 percent fewer callbacks than those with white-sounding names.”
Why White Voters With Racist Views Often Still Support Black Republicans
“when Ben Carson made a bid to become the GOP’s first African American presidential nominee. Support for Carson was positively correlated with the belief that Black Americans have too much influence on U.S. politics”
“whites who thought African Americans have “far too much” influence preferred Carson to Clinton by 45 points.
Again, much of that relationship is down to partisanship — Republicans are more likely to hold prejudiced views and also more likely to support a Republican candidate. But that’s the point: For many white GOP voters, anti-Black views don’t seem to get in the way of supporting a Black Republican.”
“Carson received more favorable evaluations among the sizable minority (40 percent) of overtly prejudiced whites who agreed with the racist stereotype that “most African Americans are more violent than most whites.” This group rated Carson significantly more favorably on a 0-100 scale than the white moderate Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush (52 to 39, respectively). Then-candidate Donald Trump was the only politician in the survey who was rated higher than Carson among overtly prejudiced whites.”
“The sharp negative relationship between support for Obama and the endorsement of anti-Black stereotypes is consistent with several studies showing that prejudice was an unusually strong predictor of opposition to Obama from the 2008 election through the end of his presidency. These patterns also fit well with other political science research showing that racially prejudiced whites tend to be more opposed to Black Democrats than to white Democrats.”
“Given the racialized nature of the two-party system in the United States, most Black political candidates are Democrats who embrace liberal positions on issues of race and justice. When asked whether they would support such a candidate, research shows that racially prejudiced white voters worry that these candidates will represent the interests of Black Americans, both because of a shared African American identity and because Democrats are perceived as the party more supportive of Black interests. So, it makes sense that racially resentful white Americans oppose candidates like Obama, as his racial identity and partisanship signaled to voters that he was more supportive of Black interests than prior presidents.
Put another way: Racially prejudiced white voters are not opposed to Black candidates simply because they are Black, but because they believe that most Black candidates will fight for “those people” and not “people like us.”
Black Republicans, on the other hand, are perceived differently by racially prejudiced white Americans. Their embrace of the Republican Party and its conservative ideology help assure racially prejudiced whites that, unlike Black Democrats, they are not in the business of carrying water for their own racial group.”
“voting for Black Republicans may also be especially appealing to racially prejudiced whites because it assuages concerns of being seen as racist by enabling them to say, in essence, “I can’t be racist! I voted for a Black candidate!” Psychologists call this “moral credentialing,” and there’s even some evidence that voters who expressed support for Obama shortly after the 2008 election felt more justified in favoring white Americans over Black Americans. Electing a Black Republican like Sears, who railed against critical race theory during the run-up to the election and supports voting restrictions that adversely affect racial minorities, is similarly used as a symbolic shield by the entire party from inevitable charges of championing racist policies. As we mentioned earlier, conservative media outlets and politicians are already weaponizing her victory against anyone who would dare suggest so.”