Addressing Diversity in Homeschooling–is there any Strength in Unity?

I love how God sends His people forward without revealing it all, but instead, with a simple command: “go.”

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1, NIV)

The Lord then allows Jacob just a peek into his destiny (you know had he seen too much, he would have run the other way). From verse 4:

‘So Abram went, as the Lord had told him…’

I can’t help but wonder if some dialogue is missing, like the point when Abram ran his story past his 2-3 friends, as if they heard the same thing. I wonder if Abram ran the conversation over and over and over in his head, trying to figure out what was really being said. I wonder if Abram began to cross-reference what God told him with what else he’d heard about the Lord (since the Bible wasn’t actually written in his day). Any and all of this is what I would have done. But I am learning.

There is an important movement happening within the homeschooling community.  African-Americans and first-generation immigrants are now the fastest-growing populations within the homeschooling community. Though our presence in this community might still cause raised eyebrows or ruffled feathers from family because of our history of trying to get into public schools, a black homeschooled child is no longer an anomaly.
Moreover, our increasing numbers have a potentially tremendous impact on every aspect of the traditional offerings; we are game-changers. History curriculum like the one I authored, A Blessed Heritage, are more readily available. Conventions are looking for speakers—not just the same old, same old with brown faces, but folks with a message that moves people to action. The corollary is also true; convention attendees want to see themselves represented on stages. And we are ditching the big state conferences that don’t want to modify their agenda and hosting our own gatherings.

But…those that see the trend are watching, and wanting to talk about it. What are the needs of this expanding community, and how might others be more aware/ sensitive to those needs? Additionally, from the perspective of the new entrants, should we concern ourselves with the larger community, or is the right answer to continue to create our own spaces? These were some of the conversations I had at various points during the HSLDA Leadership Conference on last week.

I am at a point in my spiritual walk where, like Abram, I am learning to trust the process…after a bit of back-and-forth. So as the way was provided for me to attend, I traveled to a far country (at least it seemed that way after two flights and four hours).

I was genuinely encouraged by discussions where diversity was at the front of the agenda. I could not help but remember the first time I spoke about multicultural history and why it was a necessary part of any child’s education. It was 2009, and I spoke at one of the largest homeschooling conferences in the country. In that session, there were four attendees—1, 2, 3, and 4. Ten years later, seeing crowded rooms ready to listen and talk about needed changes was encouraging. BUT, I was also quickly reminded of how far the whole diversity discussion has to go. During mealtime, one leader excitedly shared with me all of her state convention’s upcoming plans to highlight African-American presence in homeschooling—the intended speakers, the partnerships, etc. She goes on to say to me, “You should really plan on coming because that’s your audience.”

No, ma’am. African-American homeschooling parents are ONE of my audiences.

As I politely explained to her, I started this business with two simple goals. One goal was to be a one-stop-shop for every black homeschooling parent who was having to do what I was doing—spend hours, days and weeks finding resources to supplement curriculum that teaches primarily western European history with a few other stories added. The other goal was to present history in the light of Jesus—even the darkest parts. That latter goal has been problematic as there are those who would accuse me of glorifying slavery. My perspective is that God is Lord of all and in full control, and even in places where my arrogance thinks that I would have authored the story differently, I trust His heart for me where I turn pages and cannot see His hand. I fully embrace Romans 8:28, that all things are working for my good because I love the Lord and I am called according to His purpose.

So I keep writing, in accordance with what I feel the Lord leading me to do. And I am blessed to bless others—blacks from across the diaspora, racially blended families (either through adoption or marriage), and non-black families. My audience is any family looking for something other than the traditional narrative, more than the same old, same old. My audience is any family who wants more.

Sadly, she was not at all prepared for that conversation, and perhaps even looking for salt to season the foot she then realized she’d stuck squarely in her mouth.

Personally, I still won’t claim to have all the answers, although I think it is totally possible to seek reconciliation and partnership while honoring our individual heritage. One does not take away from the other. But I am happy that there is a discussion to be had on the table. I look forward to seeing where it goes.

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4 thoughts on “Addressing Diversity in Homeschooling–is there any Strength in Unity?

  1. I’m so glad that you are pioneering in the homeschooler conference space as a speaker and gamec hanger. We need people like you there to open new doors and change the way we are perceived in this country and abroad. Thank you!

  2. This is great news to hear — that you see the doors opening more and are encouraged and empowered to keep speaking in the places the Lord leads!
    I met you a couple of years back at a major homeschool convention. You offered options and information for my multiracial family that I knew I needed. Thank you! I have wished on more than one occasion that we could meet and speak together again. I do feel like you have paved a way that is valuable and needed.

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