When It Comes to Systemic Racism, No One Wants to Be Held Accountable
Earlier today, a tweet came across my feed discussing “conspiracy theories” and “unaddressed white supremacy.” It’s a long and meandering thread that started here and ended with me defending homeschoolers. So how did we get from A to B?
Jared Yates Sexton posted his article, A Lonely, Bewildering, Radicalizing Culture, along with some commentary. His article does not once mention homeschooling. The first mention of homeschooling was this tweet:
I’m not qualified to comment on how private school vouchers and the “deterioration” of public schools affect racism. But as the homeschooling parent of 3 children, I’d like to address that particular aspect.
Ms. Jones’s statement places the blame on one set of parents while simultaneously stripping away the responsibility of another. If one does in fact think that homeschoolers are to “blame” for white supremacy, where does that leave public school parents? Are we to assume that all parents of traditionally schooled students are anti-racist? Of course not. So then are we denying that public-schooled children are influenced by their home environment, for better or worse?
I asked Ms. Jones to please not create a monolith out of the 1.69 million homeschooled students in the U.S. We are as diverse as the general population. That means that yes, some homeschoolers are racist, but many are not.
Homeschoolers share one thing in common: our children participate in parent-led education. That’s it. That’s all. We are of different religions and of no religion. Some of us are conservative and some of us are liberal. Some of us are apolitical.
I then shared this article with Ms. Jones:
Why Homeschool Stereotypes Hurt All Families
No, we're not all White, religious, two-parent families.
Her response was:
Why assume parents can’t teach their own children? All parents are teachers, whether they acknowledge it or not. In fact, I believe parents are a child’s first and most important teacher.
And why are public school teachers automatically viewed as universally infallible? Are they not capable of passing along their prejudices and biases? For anyone who thinks professional educators handle racism flawlessly, check out these two articles by Jeanne Yacoubou, MS:
Touching a Black Student’s Hair in School Is a Racist No-No
Anti-racist and diversity activities for kids and teens
Mom, Can I Opt Out of White History Class?
How I answered my son + 10 ideas for what teachers and parents must do to eliminate the need for this question
I think most of us are in agreement that it takes “training and talent” to teach a classroom of 25–30 students who have varying abilities and learning styles. Under even the very best circumstances, teachers in the U.S. are overworked and unpaid. But teaching a classroom full of other people’s kids is a very different experience than teaching your own.
As for “unloading prejudices,” are some homeschooling parents racist? Yes. Are some teachers racist? Also yes.
All adults need to check themselves for prejudices when interacting with young people. This burden does not rest solely with homeschool parents. Children are like sponges who absorb biases from all directions. Not just from their parents and teachers, but also novels, TV, movies, music, other kids, and whitewashed textbooks. And speaking of textbooks, here’s another tweet from the same thread:
I have no idea what homeschool curriculum Mr. Phillips is talking about. You know why? There’s an overwhelming amount of homeschool curriculum on the market today. Like hundreds of brands that market to us. (Just check out Cathy Duffy’s Homeschool Curriculum Reviews.)
Anyone can write, print, and sell a book. To say that these two books represent all homeschool curriculum is like saying that the National Enquirer is a fair representation of newspapers and magazines.
And for the final tweet on this thread:
Let’s take a step back for a minute and discuss oversight and accountability for homeschoolers. In the U.S., homeschool requirements are set at the state level and vary greatly. I’ve homeschooled in two states. In both of those, there have been certain subjects and topics that I am required to teach. Of course, I could add on whatever I wanted.
Is there enough time in the day for a homeschool parent to spoon-feed racist B.S. to their kids? Of course.
And, could little Timmy get off the school bus and spend his afternoon being spoon-fed racist B.S. by his parents? Of course.
Systemic racism, by its very definition, has more than one point of origin. And it is fueled and perpetuated by multiple entities. To blame homeschoolers and a “deteriorating” public school system is to shift responsibility away from one’s self. It’s like saying: If other people are responsible for white supremacy and racism, then I don’t have to do the hard work of examining my own prejudices and biases. I am not the cause, so I am freed from the burden of being part of the solution.
I’ll end with the most obvious and painful issue of this whole thread. In a conversation that condemned prejudice and biases, a minority group was lumped together, bashed, and blamed for all sorts of evil. Doesn’t that sound familiar, and sad?
The above mentioned Twitter thread is public. All embeds you see here can be viewed by anyone on the internet. If you choose to join the discussion on Twitter, please be respectful. I do not condone harassing anyone or making derogatory comments.