Black Parents Say Remote Learning Gives Them And Their Kids Relief From Racism

Illustration for article titled Black Parents Say Remote Learning Gives Them And Their Kids Relief From Racism
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There are a lot of news reports going around that Black kids are not enrolling in in-person learning at the same rate as white children, but there is one benefit to Black kids learning from home: They don’t have to deal with racist teachers or schools.

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Well, at least not in person.

There is a reason for this, according to the Associated Press. The pandemic has affected people of color disproportionately when compared to whites. This leads to a lack of trust that their schools can keep them safe. Also, urban school districts have been slower to reopen classrooms.

Ayanna Johnson tended to worry every time she dropped her kids off at school in their mostly white town in Georgia. She told the AP that her daughters faced various forms of racism. Teachers were fast to punish Black kids and finding KKK flyers in mailboxes wasn’t uncommon.

“I knew from pregnancy on that this would be something we’d have to deal with,” she said. “This is the kind of area we live in, so you can imagine that you’re always going to feel protective of your children.”

Even though she has the option of sending her kids to school for in-person learning, she keeps them home.

“Now that they’re home, we feel safer,” said Johnson.

Study after study has shown that America’s schools are very hostile to Black kids, which has contributed to many Black parents turning to homeschooling, Khadijah Ali-Coleman, co-director of Black Family Homeschool Educators and Scholars, told the AP. Even before the pandemic, a surge in homeschooling among Black families began.

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“Racism in schools plays a huge, huge role in a family’s choice to do homeschooling,” Ali-Coleman said. “That racism can manifest in a lot of different ways, from a teacher who criminalizes every behavior to not recognizing how curriculums exclude the experiences of Black people to not presenting Black children with the same opportunities such as accelerated classes as white children.”

There are other advantages to homeschooling for Black parents and their kids, according to AP:

“When they’re at school, you have no clue what they’re going through unless you do the digging or they tell you,” said Erica Alcox, a mother of a 15-year-old high school freshman in Atlanta. “Remote learning lets you peek into the classroom. It puts more power back in our hands.”

Alcox, who has been a teacher since 1998, said her son feels safer at home, where he can worry less about how schools police Black children and about bullying. She said remote learning can also offer opportunities for teachers to learn from parents.

“As a teacher, I would welcome this opportunity for parents to be more involved and to be more able to hold me accountable if need be,” she said.

Many parents also say they feel more empowered in having more control over what their children learn. While many schools largely ignore or gloss over Black history, culture and voices, remote learning allows parents to better see what’s missing.

Johnson does this through efforts like socially distanced backyard African dance lessons. Tanya Hayles, founder of Black Moms Connection, an online network of more than 16,000 Black mothers with chapters across North America and Asia, said she makes sure to monitor Black History Month lessons to fill in any gaps in coverage.

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No one wants to live through a pandemic, but keeping your kids at home better protects them from both COVID-19 and the psychological wear and tear of white supremacy.

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior reporter at The Root. He is currently writing a book proposal that analyzes US-Russia relations from a black perspective.

DISCUSSION

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Mojo Where's My Free Black Stuff Hanna

The weight of racism in academic environments is crushing and dehumanizing. When it’s coming from all directions, even the textbooks, it can’t be ignored or mitigated. It sparks my outrage to even think about what we went through to get an education, struggling against the tropes: lazy, stupid, unworthy.

We were not afforded the opportunity to “just be kids” in a system firmly grounded in the notion of white superiority. It started early- in elementary school when I WON the spelling bee but the lil snot nose white boy was given first prize. My joy was knowing that I dusted his ass. Like Don Lemon - I knew what it was. These parents who want to shield their children from it know what it is.