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Saturday, February 08, 2014

On Being Black and Homeschooling Part 2

After 8 years and 3 months, I think it is finally time to revisit one of my most popular blog posts On Being Black and Homeschooling.  Looking back, I can see that I was a bit naive in some of my points such as I did not see the point or need to join a black homeschooling group, and at the same time I may have been too sensitive to whether or not my children and I were welcome in a homeschool community where WE WERE THE DIVERSITY.

But a funny thing happens when you turn 40... as I did 5 years ago... or at least in my case... you stop caring what people think of you.  You stop asking permission to move forward or to be included. You just do you... and so I did. This made the last 5 years of my homeschooling journey a little easier, as I just focussed on what was best for my kids, and did not let race or attitudes affect any of it.

It wasn't easy though.

As much as I wanted to just be a homeschooler first, and leave all ethnicity out of it, I was hit with a
reality that politically, I did not fit into the cultural and political atmosphere of most homeshoolers around me.

President Obama made my life hell.

Just when i was getting comfortable in my homeschool skin and community, I felt a certain distance beginning to happen as the 2008 Presidential Elections approached. Finally, one woman started a conversation.  "Are you going to vote for Obama because you are black", she said bluntly as she sat down at a table where I was selling tickets for the upcoming homeschool play. I wanted to run.  I wanted to die. I did not want to discuss this.  But, as I was stuck at an assigned post for the next couple of hours, there was not escape.  So I answered.  "Yes, I am voting for Obama. No, I am not voting for him because I am black. If that were the case, I would have also voted for Jackson and Sharpton, which I did not do."  "Well", she huffed, as she rose from her chair and stormed off, "If you vote for him, you are not a Christian".  Unfortunately, that was not the end of the conversation.  She would bring it up again, and again, whenever we were in a group of homeschoolers, or in any mixed company. I think her goal was to shame me into choosing religion over race, as she saw it.  I became very unhappy at this time, and eventually necessity did drive to to seek black homeschooling groups where there would be a reprieve from this conversation.  I grew up and began to appreciate my black homeschooling brothers and sisters more fully... even though my kids, never really got into it, as the groups were mostly online,  at least I had a place where I felt safe to be a homeschooler and not THE black homeschooler.


Karen Loethen said...

Two strikes, eh. Homeschooling and "not Christian" enough.

Listen, I'm fifty! So I get it, how you finally get to this wonderful place where you just don't care. But while you do care, it hurts.

And people suck.

Tonya said...

No body can understand what it means to be a "brown" homeschool family but I do! I had a great group of women whom I loved and my children loved. We were big families with lots of children and had mega fun together UNTIL I changed religions, talk about people running from you, sheesh! Our friendships broke apart like the red sea and my children (and I) suffered from a great social loss. We never got our momentum back after this and since have remained unattached and on our own. It is hard homeschooling and being brown, it is lonely and isolating but I do my best to engage my kids and one day hope we will make great connections and friendships again. You don't realize how bad the race/religious/political relations are in this country until you are homeschooling. And like the previous poster said "people suck!"