(Dr.) Christine Boston
Assistant Professor, Anthropology/Sociology
It is important that students of color be informed of and understand their history, particularly history prior to European contact that is predominantly focused on through the current models of primary and secondary history education. The inclusion of non-European history works to build confidence, inspire, and empower students of color by using that history to demonstrate that past people around the globe were creative, revolutionary, powerful, intelligent, and cosmopolitan, to say the very least. All of this is demonstrated through various examples, including the ancient Inca who oversaw the building of massive road structures throughout South America to the Kingdom of Great Zimbabwe in Africa that participated in long distance trade networks with the Imperial Chinese. Each example provided in Area 3 of the AP World History curriculum shows these students that they are just as capable as those who came before them. Their ancestors were great, and they can be, too.
But it is just not students of color who need to hear this history. Majority group students also need to know this. They are exposed to history curriculum that elevates their status as the innovators, the conquerors, the peacemakers, as the only ones who matter. This focus of Eurocentric history helps set the foundations for the prejudices and stereotypes of and against people of color, whose history is ignored or not focused on, validating ideas that they “did nothing”. These groups did not need to be controlled as Eurocentric history promotes. They had cities, they had states, and they had civilizations just as European groups did. They were quite similar to Europeans in various ways but also unique and powerful in their own rights. Collectively, this holistic approach to history demonstrates the awesomeness of what it means to be human.
All students cannot and will not know about the creative and diverse innovations all humans accomplished unless that history is taught at the same level, but the changes put forward by the AP World History College Board stifle that. The exclusion of Area 3 into a separate class with no option for college credit is a prohibitive move for many students. AP courses cost money. Money that many students and their families do not have and that school districts cannot supplement. By removing Area 3 from the AP World History curriculum the College Board is not just restricting access but also denying it to many students, particularly the most economically vulnerable, and in this day and age of a globally connected, multiculturally world we live in we cannot stand by idling and accept this change. It is neither in the best interests of our students nor the global community of citizens that we all exist in today.