While the majority of us were happy to spend the summer and fall seasons outside, and plan family trips once again with the kiddos, the fact of the matter is we are very much still living in a pandemic state. With the onset of the newly detected Omicron variant of the Coronavirus, cases have been rising in recent months. Meanwhile, companies are continuing to reopen their doors to employees, and usher kids back into classrooms. An increasing number of Black families, however, are refusing their children re-entry.
The Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey reported that in April 2020, 3% of Black parents homeschooled their children, and was up to 16% by October, a number that may not be entirely accurate, as halfway through the course of the survey, it was clarified that homeschooled children did not include those enrolled in public or private school. (Many of those surveyed were also reporting homeschooling their children during state mandated shutdowns.) Either way, a lot of us have taken to educating our own.
According to reporting by NPR, “covid was the catalyst.” Didakeje Griffin and her husband, who were interviewed by the publication, stated that “It was like a lightbulb moment,” in reference to the schools shutting down in the early pandemic days.
“Ultimately, what I realized is that the pandemic just gave us an opportunity to do what we needed to do anyway, which is homeschooling,” she continued.
Griffin said she not only wanted to protect her children from COVID, but from bullies as well. School districts from across the country continue to report that cases of bullying among Black and brown children have risen in recent years, some with irreversible, and devastating effects such as the suicide of 10 year old Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor.
Co Founders of The Black Homeschoolers of Birmingham, Jennifer Duckworth and Yalonda Chandler launched their organization in Birmingham, Alabama three years ago upon realizing that there was no ready made community to support Black parents interested in the educational lifestyle.
“My son, being a young Black boy with positive self-esteem about himself, can sometimes be threatening, for lack of a better word, to some teachers,” Duckworth said. “They’ll create an identity for the Black and brown children that they don’t even realize they’re doing.”
Duckworth has been homeschooling her children for years, and her family participates in many of the programming coordinated for Black Homeschoolers of Birmingham. She says that since launching, the organization has grown from just two families, to seventy.
Duckworth additionally stated that homeschooling is innate to the Black community, as we educated ourselves in the days we weren’t permitted into formal educational institutions..
“The African-American and African culture, we are the culture that has been homeschooling our children since the beginning,” the mother of three shared. “And so I feel like it’s just in our DNA.”