The new AP African American Studies curriculum is a CRT Trojan horse that leverages censorship, half-truths, and mythology. Immediately, students are introduced to an essay describing how white people stereotype Africa and Africans as inferior. “When writing about Africans, always include the starving African, who wanders the refugee camp nearly naked, and waits for the benevolence of the West.”
“The Origins of the African Diaspora” section doesn’t really cover diaspora origins, instead it discusses great and expansive African kingdoms. There is no mention of conquest, slaves acquired by conquest/jihad, slave trading, and that most of these kingdoms were Muslim-ruled. Muslim kingdoms were filled with slavery and slave trading.
African and Arab conquerors are spared the description as colonialists and slave traders. These are reserved for white people and mostly the Portuguese. What do the Portuguese have to do with African American history? Nothing, but they are white, and unlike most Europeans, they had many settlements in Africa prior to the 19th century and their history in Africa as slave masters and traders is unparalleled. This section would be more relevant to African Americans if the Aro Confederacy (1690-1902) from Nigeria was covered. It sold 3.5 million slaves in the Atlantic slave trade. More African Americans are believed to have Nigerian roots than any other nation.
Slavery was everywhere in Africa, but the curriculum notes significant contrasts with slavery in America. For example, some were chattel slaves, and slavery was temporary. That’s a little misleading. Africa slaves generally inherited their status, and it was permanent. Africans freed from slavery knew they were one capture, kidnapping, or raid away from being re-enslaved. They also note that African slavery tended to include women and children. It would be more correct to say that most were women and children. Men were often killed. “Some labored as attendants, while others worked in administration.” Left from the discussion is that attendants were slave wives and concubines, administrators were eunuchs, and it was normal for these important slaves to be sacrificed when their masters died.
The curriculum notes slavery wasn’t based on race like it was in the United States. Is it superior to enslave people based on their blood line, tribal affiliation, or because a family member wants to get rid of them or needs cash?
On Women in Leadership, Queen Nzinga of Angola is featured for creating sanctuary communities for those escaping Portuguese enslavement. Left from the curriculum is that it was Nzinga who “abruptly ended her predecessors opposition to Portuguese encroachment, opening her lands to Portuguese slave traders and exposing her kinsmen of the kingdom to seizure and sale.” And Nzinga’s slave sanctuary gave her an army of slaves to conduct slave raids. In the 1640s, she was selling up to 13,000 slaves to the Dutch per year.
The curriculum covers Jamaican Marcus Garvey with his Back to Africa movement, but it doesn’t mention his African Zionist movement. In 1979, most African nations supported UN Resolution 3379 determining that Zionism was a form of racism. It also doesn’t cover the creation of Liberia by the American Colonization Society. Although 4 million supported Garvey’s movement, only between 10,000 to 12,000 slaves from America took the offer for free transport, land, and getting-started money to head back to Africa.
Liberia is noticeably absent from the curriculum, but it should be part of African American studies. Americo-Liberians enslaved Liberians until the 1960s, they deny citizenship based on skin color, and they refused Garvey’s request to allow African Americans to immigrate to Liberia.
There are several activists from the Americas that are noted for their efforts to connect with their brothers and sisters in Africa in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Activists condoned enslaver and racist (tribal) Black brothers. A blind eye has also been turned to the extraordinary increase in slavery and slave trading in Africa after Westerners made these illegal. Presenting African history correctly would help African Americans and all Americans understand African American history.
Finally, ignored is any attention to the massive efforts extended by the British and other Westerners to end the Arab and African slave trades, and slavery in Africa. Europeans were resisted at every turn. There were two major problems. The Europeans were unique in seeing slavery as a moral issue. For Arabs, since most slaves were concubines, it was an issue of a right to pleasure. For Africans, it was cultural. Peasants owned slaves. Slaves owned slaves. Many or most men had slave wives and concubines. Some slaves rejected freedom because, freed slaves were still slaves, and few would hire them or rent them lodging. Jim-Crow-like practices like these persist for descendants of slaves and indigenous populations, and so does slavery.
Ending slavery also imposed an economic problem. Slavery and slave trading was a significant source of export income, and slaves were used as money. To end slavery, Europeans had to introduce capitalism and wage labor. The white man and capitalism were essential to ending slavery in Africa, but with a CRT orientation one would not expect to see anything positive about white people in the curriculum and there isn’t. This course would turn any child into a hater of white people. Florida is right to ban this AP course.
Kathleen Brush, Ph.D. retired as a turnaround executive after 20 years and has spent over a decade researching diversity and discrimination in the world. This included travel to 125 countries. Her published articles are extensive, and her latest books include Racism and anti-Racism in the World: before and after 1945, The Discrimination Circus, and Reparations for All or None. In 2023, Brush’s book The World is Racist will be published. She was alumni of the year at F.A.U.’s College of Business in 2018.