One of the things whiteness affords me is access to conversations I don’t want to be having. The tiring ones that I know I’m responsible to engage in by virtue of my privilege, my understanding of the stakes, and a moral imperative to betray white supremacy. So, when I see (and hear) white people denying the existence of systemic racism and chalking up the documented differences in opportunity and outcome between white people and Black, Indigenous, and people of color to personal failings, I’m compelled to seek out airtight responses that will destabilize their worldview. I need them upset and unsure, because that’s where growth starts.
To this end, I’ve been following a piece of evidence that popped up on my radar not too long ago. Something that has actually been known for years, but isn’t widely known among white people. First, Black families are among the fastest-growing populations withdrawing their children to homeschool.
And, second? Many Black homeschooled children are earning test scores higher than their white counterparts at public schools. Let me put that plainly: Homeschooling virtually eliminates the so-called “achievement gap” between Black students and white students. The reasons for the success of these children are myriad and understandable.
- Targeted, customized education benefits ALL children.
- Black kids are intelligent, despite what white supremacist institutions would have us believe.
- When Black kids are not subject to constant racism, they excel.
- Decentering whiteness and white history gives Black children a connection to the past and a vision for the future.
And, we know this is the case because, when Black homeschooled children were measured against Black public schooled children, the homeschooled cohort were found to have achieved reading scores FORTY-TWO percentage points higher than their peers, even when controlling for gender and socioeconomic status. Black parents are decisive in their reasoning for homeschooling. A 2015 study in the Journal of School Choice found that the top five reasons Black parents give for choosing homeschooling are:
- Providing religious or moral instruction.
- Transmitting their worldview to their children.
- Developing strong family relationships.
- Individualizing education.
- Accomplishing more academically than in conventional schools.
Please take note that the first three reasons given are not academic in nature. These parents brought their babies home to build them up, guard their hearts, and give them space to breathe and just be. Most of the parents who are homeschooling do not have education credentials, as is the case for most homeschool teachers. Degreed and certified teachers have an important role in our educational system, but they do not hold the keys to education.
I think about reparations a lot as a white person from a very long line of white people in the United States who have benefitted tremendously from exploitation. And, I wonder what impact we’d have on the future if Black families suddenly became entitled to a guaranteed living stipend to stay home and educate their kids. And, that is exactly the query I want to pose to people who claim systemic racism doesn’t exist. (But the answer is not what a lot of white people want to think about.)