Since the introduction of the new AP U.S. History curriculum in 2012, there has been a fierce wave of opposition to it. In August 2014, the Republican National Committee adopted a resolution stating that the new APUSH curriculum is a “radically revisionist view of (American) history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.”

Many conservative activists and lawmakers have expressed their concern about the course, saying that it focuses too much on the negative aspects of American history and that it is “rife with anti-American biases.” On February 16, 2015, the Oklahoma House Common Education Committee passed an amendment to House Bill 1380 in an 11-to-4 vote that would defund the College Board’s AP US History course in its revised form. The author of the amendment, Rep. Dan Fisher (R–Okla.), said that “redesign of this new framework trades an emphasis on America’s founding principles of constitutional government in favor of robust analysis of gender, racial oppression, class and ethnicity in the lives of marginalized people.”

Fisher also said the AP course’s “emphasis of instruction is on America as a nation of oppressors and exploiters.” In the amendment, Fisher lists specific people and documents — such as Martin Luther King Jr. and the Bill of Rights — that he believes should be integral parts of the AP curriculum. Fisher argues that great people and important documents are being put to the side and substituted with historical events that highlight America’s shortcomings. He’s saying we need to portray America in a more positive light.

Despite the fact that Fisher withdrew the amendment to rewrite House Bill 1380 shortly after it passed, due to national criticism, the conversation is far from over. The bill had originally passed overwhelmingly in the aforementioned Oklahoma House Common Education Committee, which speaks to a widespread belief in the bill’s principles. In fact, legislators in states such as Colorado, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Texas think the AP course focuses too much on America’s “blemishes” and are considering moves to ban or alter the course. Similarly, in Kansas, legislators are moving to ban any course not created in-state, which would include APUSH. In this way, legislators and members of other political bodies are attempting to assert more control over the curriculum and force schools to teach what they want to be taught.

While it’s important to highlight the positive aspects of American history, I disagree that the new APUSH curriculum is highlighting negative aspects of history over more positive aspects. In fact, I believe we are still struggling to accept the dark moments in our past that continue to affect our future. Too often, we attempt to silence parts of history we aren’t proud of, and when we speak of them, they’re not discussed as systemic, long-term issues, but rather “blemishes.”

I grew up in a very progressive part of California — the Bay Area — and went to very liberal schools in Oakland and San Francisco my entire life. It was only in my senior year of high school that I had learned anything of substance about the widespread eugenic practices in America — and especially California — that weren’t formally outlawed until 1979.

I agree that we must highlight important figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., and we must recognize the contributions of the Founding Fathers. However, we must equally highlight aspects of our history such as Japanese internment and the brutal enslavement of and discrimination against African Americans. History isn’t just listing important figures and documents; it’s about analyzing our past with a critical eye. We cannot talk about MLK’s famous speech, which Fisher wanted to add to the AP curriculum, without addressing the fact that racial oppression and marginalization were the reasons for it. We cannot discuss the contributions of the Founding Fathers without pointing out the ways in which their policies favored white men of European ancestry. We cannot replace the darker parts of history or we risk misinterpreting history entirely and becoming ignorant to the harsh realities of America’s past.

The reason APUSH emphasizes “gender, racial oppression, class and ethnicity in the lives of marginalized people,” is that they are integral parts of American history we cannot forget. In fact, the settlement of America, and the creation of America by Europeans was largely a product of oppression and marginalization of various racial groups. Today, less than three percent of Fortune 500 companies are headed by women, African American’s are nearly six times more likely to be incarcerated than whites and poverty rates among African Americans and Latinos are two to three times higher than among whites. Ignoring these issues will only exacerbate the tensions between different ethnic and racial groups in society, and further marginalize the plights of the many minorities that make up America.

My intention is not be anti-American. But by having these hard discussions, and recognizing the problems of our past that carry over to today, we can improve society moving forward. By pointing out the mistakes in a country’s history, we are molding our nation for a better future. No country has a perfect history, and it is crucial that we acknowledge it.

Anna Polumbo-Levy is an LSA freshman.

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