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African American Studies benefits all kids.
The College Board is piloting an Advanced Placement African American Studies Course, and I hope my (white) children have an opportunity to take that class. African American Studies has obvious interest and benefit for Black students. This combination of sociology, history, religion, literature both celebrates the contributions of Black Americans and exposes the history and cultural reality of oppression and injustice they have endured. This same history and culture carries great significance for all students who want to understand the story of the United States.
I stumbled my way into African American Studies in college, where an AAS Literature class led me to a series of other classes and an eventual minor in the subject. These courses transformed my view of America and of myself. Having Black teachers (both in the classroom and through books), learning alongside Black peers, and engaging Black history, religion, and literature broadened my awareness of the contributions of Black artists and leaders to the American story.
These classes did not transform my life all of a sudden, but they did change my trajectory, like a one-degree shift of a compass that has slowly moved me to a different place. I am hopeful that my own children will be introduced to the complex realities of the American story at a younger age and in a way that allows them to reckon with their own participation in the tragedies, horrors, and glorious accomplishments of this nation.
As a white parent, these are the stories most important for my children to learn in understanding who they are as Americans and how we can participate in writing an American story that bends towards justice.
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