Gee & Ursula: FL downsizing Black studies ‘doesn’t erase history’

Feb 1, 2023, 12:54 PM | Updated: 12:54 pm
african-american studies...
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The College Board has released a stripped-down version of its new Advanced Placement course in African American studies. The course left out much of the content that has angered conservatives and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in particular.

The College Board took out the names of many Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory (CRT). Black Lives Matter was also lost from the formal curriculum. DeSantis had banned the original African-American studies course.

Florida officials last month issued a chart that said it promoted the idea that modern American society oppresses Black people, was inappropriate, and uses articles by critics of capitalism.

“These are areas where we still have a lot of room for growth. I just call BS on this, because it was just last August, that the College Board announced this particular AP course and they were celebrating,” Ursula Reutin said on The Gee & Ursula Show. “It was lauded by scholars like Henry Louis Gates, Jr. of Harvard who talked about the importance of African American Studies. And now we strip all this stuff. It’s not even a year later.”

A spokesperson for DeSantis on Wednesday told the Associated Press that the state education department is reviewing the revised curriculum for compliance with Florida law.

“I call them bad faith acts by conservatives and letting them determine the way to examine the black experience. Doing this will only encourage more of it,” Gee said.

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“If you talk about the Black Lives Matter movement, you can talk about the good and you could talk about the bad. I don’t know if erasing it is going to help kids,” Ursula said.

“First of all, or you know, talking about Black feminism, how is that harmful? And I saw a lot of people reacting to this news saying, ‘Oh, good. You know, the last thing we need is, you know, more division and more kids feeling like they are the oppressors.’ Why are they feeling like they are the oppressors for something that happened in history? They are being empowered to not repeat mistakes from the past,” she continued.

The course is currently being tested at 60 schools around the U.S., and the official framework is intended to guide the expansion of the course to hundreds of additional high schools in the next academic year.

A dozen other states are considering banning CRT courses.

“Our job, when educating our young people, is to concern ourselves with the way they’re going to feel about facts. It’s our job to equip them with information and teach them to be critical thinkers,” show producer Andrew “Chef” Lanier said. “Now, it’s been my experience through learning African-American history, and my experience teaching my six-year-old son, about Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King, that when you teach young people about this, they feel empathy for those who are oppressed. They don’t look at the racists in that situation and say, ‘That’s me, I identify with that person.’ They identify with the people who have had their rights system systematically stripped away.”

Over 200 educators wrote an open letter on Medium criticizing efforts by DeSantis.

This is censorship and a frontal attack on academic freedom. We categorically reject DeSantis’s autocratic claim to knowing what college-level material should be available in an AP African American Studies course. There is no precedent, of which we are aware, for him or the Florida Department of Education to claim expertise on any other subject matter for AP course adoption.”

“I am still encouraged that no matter what the attempt, trying to erase the past to erase real history will not work. It is too late for that. There’s way too much technology,” Gee said. “Some of these states will take these things on. But they will lose out on a generation. I think the generation coming after us, you guys can make fun of them for not working hard. But this generation has been raised on technology. They have access to the information. For so many years, it was comfortable to teach that Christopher Columbus discovered America. You see that can’t happen anymore. Because technology won’t allow it to.”

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Gee & Ursula: FL downsizing Black studies ‘doesn’t erase history’