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Saturday, February 08, 2014

On Being Black and Homeschooling Part 4

Everything about being black and homeschooling was hard.

From my early assessment on Being Black and Homeschooling, to my thoughts on looking back Here and Here, I can see now that I have been on a journey, that took a heads down and power though approach.

Don't get me wrong.  I liked homeschooling.  I really did. I don't regret it at all, and I know it was the best thing for my kids, but the journey felt lonely... it really did.  In the beginning, the only person I felt that really supported me family-wise was my husband... after all, it was originally his idea.  As for family and friends... I was told to spank my kids, and send them back to school. Others just called me crazy. And some said I was "a mess" for homeschooling... whatever that is supposed to mean.

Very fortunately, I had some support of a couple of fellow church members who homeschooled, and they gave me guidance for a while, but that did not last long.  First, I did not feel that I fit into the homeschool groups they brought me to, especially in the early days, and secondly, our
homeschooling philosophies differed and so we eventually parted ways.  But them, I have always been very self-sufficient, so the internet as a whole guided me through those first few years.

I really don't know how I made it. I felt soooo alone, most of the time. After all, the single most important thing most veteran homeschoolers will instruct a new homeschooler to do is join a community... a co-op of sorts where you can find guidance, support, and shared resources. I never really felt like I had that.

I did find and use a program for 9 of our 10 years of homeschooling, but I felt more like a consumer... a parent paying for a service, than a integrated part of that community, especially in the years mentioned in part 2 and 3.  .. And don't get me wrong, my children got served pretty well... as much as you could expect from any private school environment. They learned to function in a classroom even though we were homeschoolers, they made friends, they had access to artistic pursuits, they went to parties, and proms and made good friends.  Yes, I got my money's worth... for the kids, but I never did get what I hoped for as a homeschooling parent... to feel like part of a community where people had my back.  I just didn't.

In all fairness, I have to ask myself if the isolation was more of a product of my individualistic type personality than a result of my overabundance of melanin?  I honestly don't know... my gut tells me it was a little of both.  And for the most part, it's not what anyone did or said... though some interesting conversations I did not appreciate did happen.

After all, there were a couple of African American or rather AfriKan homeschool groups in the area, but I just didn't want my kids to be raised with that type of "all in your face Blackness".  I wanted the same innocence for them in areas of ethnicity that they had in areas of sexuality that homeschooling afforded (not being exposed to too much too soon).... for the AfriKan groups were just not my cup of tea. I wanted my kids to be confident in themselves for just being themselves, before they had to be confident in themselves for being themselves and black.  KWIM?  If that meant I was on the fringes of a non-ethic homeschool community, then so be it.  I still think I would prefer that than being highly active is a very ethic-urban group, because that does not represent who I am, or who my kids are.  I don't think being more included was worth exposing my kids to philosophies that would have made them self-conscious, or angry about who they were and what 'their people' had been through.

In the end, my kids are doing well, and I am OK too.  But the more I am away from homeschooling, the more critical of our journey I become, and the less I want to continue to be a participant in it, at least in the capacity that we had been in before.

And that makes me sad.


Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

As you know, I only voted for Romney because he is white.

It's a good thing I'm not black too because it would only take a few exchanges like this to make me the angriest black chick everrr.

There is so much in these posts. I hope you get more comments unpacking this... I feel like there are so many conversations there waiting to happen. :)

Karen Loethen said...

I want to tell you that you are a part of a rather large group of online and real friends that I have who are both homeschoolers and BLACK. So, Yeah, I get it and it is a freaking nightmare that amazing women such as yourself have to even freaking deal with this in this day.

In the meantime, know that I have never, EVER doubted what an amazing group of kids you have raised!