Saturday, August 13, 2011

Another school year begins. Hopefully, all the wonder and joy inside my head will find a way to convey itself to the two young people I cherish, and this will be our most magnificent, fantastical, educational year ever.

Can't wait.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Sad Discovery About Homeschooling Websites

I have signed on and off of so many homeschooling sites in the past couple of years. The reason being that so many of them offer so little diversity. Being a realist, I am totally aware that if I join a website for Black homeschoolers, the members are going to be Black, but I never expected the almost tangible sense of racism I felt on some of the sites I joined.

I felt like I was slipping back into the 50s or before. Like segregation was the desired theme of the site instead of black homeschooling parents comparing, sharing, and learning from each other's experiences. Too much about "the White man holding us back" and not enough about what we are doing with our kids that others can learn from.

Don't get me wrong. Not every Black homeschooling site or blog is like that, but enough of them that I choose not to join any more of them from now on. I don't homeschool for religious reasons, and that seems to be the other purpose for these sites. They want to preach to me about all the reasons the world is going to hell, and I simply want tips on homeschooling. If they are not predicting the end of the world because of the homosexuality that is running rampant in public schools and destroying the world, then it's because there are too many people who aren't Christian or some Afrocentric religion. I just want homeschooling conversation. I go to God for salvation, not to homeschooling sites.

The problem isn't just with Black sites either, so I don't want people thinking I hate my own people. I've joined sites that supposedly offered the diversity I was looking for. One site in particular was about 99% white, but in looking through it's membership, I saw a few Black members, and the conversation seemed to be pleasant and friendly, so I joined.

It was a site where membership had to be approved, and you had to include a photo, so the owner knew ahead of time that I was Black before she approved me. If anything, I was probably more surprised that she did, than she could've been at my race.

I can honestly say that this was, and remains, the only site I've ever joined where the owner of the site made absolutely no effort to welcome or acknowledge my new membership to their site. Even when I commented on some of her posts or those of others, she never once acknowledged me in any way. I think for the whole month I was on this site, I had one person, a White lady, respond to something I said. The owner was still conversing with the other member with a Black photo, and everything seemed cool between them, but I never heard a peep from either of them.

The other non-Black site I joined seemed like a lovely place. It had both parents and kids as members, which I eventually discovered wasn't necessarily a good thing. I would say that this site was 95% White. The other 5% was a mixture of Black, Asian, and Indian. Everyone there was cordial. I was immediately greeted by the owner, and then her son, and was friended by a couple of the kids who were members.

Because they were kids, I simply thanked them for their friendship, found some item on their page to compliment, whether it was their page itself, or something positive about something they had written about themselves, and left it at that.

Shortly after, I started noticing that a lot of the kids had groups they wanted other members to join, and I believe there was some acknowledgement for groups with the most members. One day, I noticed on my page that I had become a member of some group I never joined. The next day, there was another group, and another. Then one day, I went to the page of a young, Black girl who had left me a comment, and on her page was a comment from someone saying that she was ugly and fake, and I don't remember what else, but next to the comment was my face.

I was appalled, of course, because I would never even engage these kids in conversation, let alone disrespect someone's child like that. When I contacted the owner, she promised to look into it. She told me that evidently, there was some sort of glitch, and that the photo of me was just a reflective thing, because when she looked at the girl's page, her face was next to the comment.

As I was posting a blog on that website about the experience, I noticed that lots of other members, mostly teens, had complaints as well about various things, including being listed as members of groups they hadn't joined, and didn't want to be members of. A lot of them had been members much longer than I had, and were fed up and leaving the site. I decided that maybe I should too.

The crazy thing about that was, there was no leaving. I realized that there was no button to push, or option to click to leave that website. I sent a message to the owner telling her that I wanted to leave the site, and was told I had to inbox the site's tech guy, who I had to message about three times before I got a response. He simply said that if I wanted him to, he could deactivate my account.

I even tried to start my own website for Happy Homeschoolers. My goal was to find a harmonius mixture of people from every background who simply wanted to discuss and share the fun things they do with their families, the mishaps they'd learned from, anecdotes, and relevant information. I had maybe 4 or 5 Black people join, who rarely posted anything. I waited. I even joined Twitter and tweeted about it on a fairly regular basis, as much as I hated doing it. I followed various homeschoolers, got them to follow me as well, but unfortunately, they just never seemed to follow that link to Happy Homeschoolers.

I started to wonder if I'm the only one. Am I the only homeschooling mom who isn't worried about saving the salvation of everyone else? Am I the only one who doesn't feel like my kids are going to be corrupted if they associate outside of the Black race? What if they know some homosexuals? Who even uses that word anymore? Heaven forbid they learn anything that the kids in public schools are learning!

I don't mean to offend anybody. I have nothing against religion or the fact that people see it as important. I don't have anything against people who feel like their kids only need to know the history of their race. I totally understand that there is a deeper need for Black kids to know their history, because when I was in elementary school, we didn't even have Black History month that I can recall. We simply had Brotherhood Week.

My problem is just that a lot of these sites, Black and White, seem to be going backwards. They want to embrace segregation, but not acknowledge it as that. The Black folks don't want the White folks to join because then they might know what is really thought of them, and White folks don't want the Black folks to join because we might "ghetto" up the place. We aren't like them, and can't possibly know what we are doing, so we all just know our places and keep to ourselves, and the world will go on being a bleak and miserable place.