A textbook written by IU sociology professor Fabio Rojas has been removed from the curriculum of an upcoming Advanced Placement course on African American studies. Rojas is one of several authors cast out of the curriculum.
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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, announced in January he would ban the curriculum. However, the head of the College Board, David Coleman, says the changes were all made for pedagogical reasons, not to give in to political pressure.
The course has been in development for more than a decade and is being piloted in select schools across the country in 2024. It will cover content on Africa, slavery, reconstruction and the civil rights movement. However, according to a New York Times article, the updated curriculum removed the names of many Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory, the queer experience and Black feminism.
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Included in the cuts was Rojas, who wrote the textbook “From Black Power to Black studies: How a Radical Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline.” The book covers the history of disciplines of Black studies.
The book is often used in introductory African American Studies classes as an overview, Rojas said. There hasn’t been any official statement from the College Board with the exact reason the textbook was cut from the curriculum.
Students who take the AP African American Studies course will now review less material on the history and theory of Black studies, incarceration and the debate over reparation. Students will no longer be tested on these subjects, according to The New York Times.
“Almost everyone who got cut is still alive,” Rojas said. “So, we are talking about current living knowledge.”
Rojas said that the cut curriculum is important to learn because African American studies is always evolving and alive. He said by reading this living and current knowledge, students are getting today’s perspective. The removed topics offer contemporary arguments surrounding intersectionality, a topic that was cut from many different textbooks. Intersectionality is a framework that explains how different aspects of a person’s identity affect their discrimination or privilege.
“Without these topics, the modern critical perspectives are missing,” Rojas said. “Students would benefit from learning these topics, even if they didn’t agree with it. It would trigger interesting and reflective conversations.”
Regardless of political disagreements, Rojas said the message deserves to be out there.
“There is nothing to prevent people from writing a curriculum that could be downloaded for free or at a low cost,” Rojas said.
Even without the AP stamp of approval, Rojas believes some students would seek out these textbooks and the message would remain out there.
“Don’t do outrage,” Rojas said. “Do action.”