If you didn't know my race previously, you do now. I am black. (african american, brown, non-white... whatever)
There has been a great stir in the news lately because the number of black homeschooling has suddenly increased. As a black person, homeschooling is not a decision to be made lightly.
"for the black community, teaching at home was frowned on because of the civil rights battle to get into public schools in the first place. Mike Smith with the Home School Legal Defense Association says the times are changing."
But just as those first pioneers forced thier way into public schools to get quality educations for thier children, many people like myself are now fleeing.
Why so late in the game? Easy... we didn't feel welcome, at first. Here's my personal story: I first looked into homeschooling when I lived in New Orleans. I called the local homeschool association and had a very pleasant conversation in length. Finally, I was invited to come to a homeschool meeting, and the place was set, but the woman did not know the date. However, she did ask for my description so she would know me when I arrived at the park. Unon giving my description, her tone seemed to change (now I could be paranoid, but....) and she told me she would call me back with the rest of the information... it never happened. (of course I will balance that by saying, she was one person, and I was living in a city where David Duke was currently running for senate, but that was my experience)
Fast forward a few years later and a few states over, and I explored homeschooling more agressively and had a homeschooling friend bring me to a meeting. While I was the only black person there, I received a warm reception but also had that weird feeling I get sometimes of feeling like a science experiment.
Me being the only one there, did not last long. Over the next two years, the number of black homeschoolers I bumped into went from 1% to about 15 percent. And everyone seems comfortable in thier own skin and with people who are in different skins.
The major difference between the struggle for African Americans to break into homeschooling vs integrated schools was the very subtle resistance in the beginning, but the joy in it is as homeschoolers teaching thier kids to be individuals, they were more easily able to accept individuals different from them. One person at a time, one new friend at a time, few *homeschooling black children that I know of, have ever been made to feel that they were different or not worthy because of the color of thier skin. (*one African American teen that I know of has felt excluded from social activities)
Now on the other hand, I do see many African Americans continue to isolate themselves from non-black homeschoolers. I have belonged to a couple of email groups, where whites have been called awful things and white parents of black children have been mistreated.
update: It has been 4 years since I wrote this and I have already seen a culture change where while there are African American homeschool groups, there is less of a culture issue, and the groups are generally loving and inclusive of all. This is probably due to the extreme growth of the black population in homeschooling including more people who are more friendly to other races.
I am very greatful to the homeschooling community for thier ease of acceptance of the black community into their ranks. I am even more thankful to homeschooling parents for keeping any negative race views they may have had to themselves and not passing them on to thier kids. ...
And I call on African American homeschooler to be less exclusive and separate from homeschoolers as a whole. Because I have a dream that one day, at a crowded homeschooling activity, no black mother will make a rushed bee-line for me with a relieved and grateful look to find another "one of us" there. But that they will walk by and say "hi" just like everyone else.