Editorial | Florida’s ban on African American studies is dangerous


Pamela Smith | Visual Editor

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Turning Point Action’s “Unite and Win” rally Downtown on Aug. 19, 2022.

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently banned a new Advanced Placement course for high schoolers on African American studies, citing that the course is inaccurate and violates state law. 

The College Board, which creates AP tests, assured the Florida Department of Education that the class is just as factual and rigorous as its other courses. However, the Education Department denied the course for vague reasons, including its readings from major African American scholars such as Angela Davis and bell hooks. The state claimed that intersectionality — which is vitally important to understanding discrimination — leads to critical race theory, the theory that race is a social construct entrenched in our systems which many conservatives oppose. 

Rejecting a course because it teaches the uncomfortable legacy of slavery, Jim Crow and other measures that led to systemic racism is dangerous for our country. People need to learn about a crucial part of history that wasn’t taught frequently or properly for years.

The notion of banning a class as important as African American studies so DeSantis can appeal to his conservative base, who seems to only care about the “badness” of topics such as critical race theory, is appalling. Putting partisan politics in the classroom is even worse. Everyone — Democrats and Republicans alike — should learn about African American history, especially from a well-researched class.

DeSantis has already needlessly brought politics into schools. Florida Republicans and Desantis banned books that are “pornographic” or age “inappropriate” — in other words, books with LGBTQ+ characters — in school libraries and banned teaching critical race theory in the classroom. These are vindictive actions that are based on partisanship rather than real care toward the future generation’s education. 

Gatekeeping education is a slippery slope. If students aren’t taught about our country’s history — the good, the bad and the ugly of it all — they don’t know the full scope of it, and they may continue to perpetuate the systemic racism that is so ingrained in our system. Our government should not try to suppress knowledge, but rather it should encourage students to seek it out.