As the African Heritage Foundation continues to develop its “Home Directed Learning” service that is intended to start in September 2017, they continue to educate their people on the need and value of homeschooling.
The African Heritage Foundation uses international research and data compiled in the area of homeschooling from the African American experience to build its rationale for the need of homeschooling for African Barbadian children. They further state that this type of educational system should be directed in the poorer communities.
President of the African Heritage Foundation says that if each school in Barbados gave his organization a list of what are considered to be deviant children, it would be comprised of 98% African Barbadian children from the poorer communities or communities where poor people live. He went on to say Public schools in particular are overpopulated and thus fail to ensure the academic and social development of all the students in their charge.
He cited an article written in 2015 by Ama Mazama that spoke to racism in schools in America being the motivational force behind many African American people opting to homeschool. He noted the dynamics of the countries were different at face value but very similar under the surface. When asked to explain what he meant by this, he said, while America has many white teacher who look white and promote their culture, religion and heritage, in Barbados we have African Barbadian teachers promoting European culture, religion and heritage over their own. Sister Ama Mazama says ” Homeschooling, common among white Americans, is showing an increase among African-Americans kids, as well. African Americans now make up 10% of all homeschooled children in this fast growing form of education. However, the reasons for black kids to be homeschooled may not be the same as for white kids. My research shows that black parents homeschool their children due to white racism.
This may come as a surprise since, for many, we live in an age of alleged color blindness and post-racialism, characterized by the declining significance of race and racism. My research found strong evidence to suggest that racism is far from being a thing of the past. I found covert institutional racism and individual racism still persist and are largely responsible for the persistence of profound racial disparities and inequalities in many social realms. Schools, of course, are no exception, which helps one understand why racism is such a powerful drive for black homeschoolers.”
The African Heritage Foundation president says what makes their mission as an agent for change more challenging is the fact that most African Barbadians do not understand social or institutional racism. He says that while the Foundation works on building the Home Directed Learning service it has the task of educating the public on racism in its various manifestations and how homeschooling can be one method of addressing this situation. Pointing us again to the words of Sister Ama Mazama he asks readers to think about Eurocentric curriculums and teachers’ attitudes. She says ” when it comes to schools, there are at least two important areas of concern: the curriculum and teachers’ attitudes and behaviors. School curricula continue to promote a worldview developed by Western civilization. This wholesale Eurocentric orientation of most schools’ curricula, in a society that, ironically, is becoming increasingly brown (increase in bleaching and promotion of lighter skinned entertainers), speaks volumes about a pervasive European ethnocentrism — that is, the notion that every one in the world thinks and does or should think and do like Europeans.” Barbadian society reeks of this thinking and as a result what is considered to be menial labor remains the domain of the black man. In his arguments in support of his findings, the president of the African Heritage Foundation asks Barbadians to answer questions like, why don’t white people ever work as maids in a tourism sector in which 99% of the hotels are white owned. Ask questions he says like, why do we only have one white police, or why we have no white garbage men or women, why a white girl can win Miss Barbados yet they hardly make the Banks Calendar posters or even the competitions, and why only black people in jail for the most part? He tasks the African Barbadians to recall what happened when a white woman supposedly went missing. I wonder how many people feel that Black people would have been allowed to act in the way the white people did. Could we form gangs of search parties and accost people at will without reprisal from the law?
Peggy McIntosh, an anti-racism activist, often cites a list of things she can take for granted as a white woman. Her list reflects the nature of the curriculum that students grow up being exposed to. As she says: “When I am told about our national heritage or about civilization, I’m shown that people of my color made it what it is;” as well as “I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that attest to the existence of their race.”
For black people, it is a totally different experience. Indeed, while European culture and thought are implicitly presented as universal and Europe as the only place from which great ideas and discoveries originated, Africa and African-descended people find themselves quasi-excluded from the curriculum. McIntosh says one of the fathers with whom I spoke in Atlanta succinctly articulated, “All we learn about is their stuff, and we know nothing about our stuff, our history, our culture.” This results in a general school-sanctioned ignorance about Africa and its descendants and in a disdain for the black experience, as I found through my interviews. Eventually, this becomes a pervasive and potent form of institutional racism.
Furthermore, the attitudes and actions of teachers were questioned by the African Heritage Foundation. He said teachers were overly critical, unresponsive, unqualified, insensitive, offensive, mean, hypocritical, and using double standards when it came to teaching of African culture and heritage. He noted that in their attempts to host Africa centered educational programs in schools in Barbados, the most resistance came from teachers who were of a Christian religious persuasion. Indeed, many teachers seem to bring into the schools the many racist stereotypes and attitudes that have been ingrained in them through their own schooling here in Barbados, in particular the notions that slavery brought the salvation of Africans.
The African Heritage Foundation president agrees with Ama Mazama when she says ” by taking the constant threat of harassment and discrimination out of the picture, homeschooling provides African-American parents the space and time to educate and socialize their children for optimal personal development.” She found that home education is planned and delivered primarily by mothers, who stay at home, or work from home. This mother-led home education process is commonly observed among homeschoolers. From what I am hearing from the African Heritage Foundation, should their be a warm reception and acceptance for homeschooling in Barbados and an increase in African Barbadian families opting to homeschool, this will effect greater involvement of family members such as grandmothers, aunts, cousins and even god parents in their children’s education.
In general, two strategies are commonly observed among black home educators: imparting self-knowledge and self-esteem through positive teaching about Africa and African-Americans. While finding ready-to-use educational materials can be challenging, most parents reported creating their own materials, by drawing from different sources, such as books, documentaries, the internet, field-trips, etc. Many go out of their way to provide exposure to black people who have achieved greatness in their domain, for instance, literature, science, or history, in an effort not only to educate their children about their history and culture, but also to instill racial pride and confidence in them.
In other words, many black homeschooling parents engage in racial protectionism, so that they will have the self-confidence and knowledge necessary to face and overcome the hurdles that white racism appears to place in their path.
In closing we were told that it is intended by the African Heritage Foundation that their Home Directed Learning service will provide a model of alternative education that can be utilized by the powers that be to bring positive effective reform of the educational system in Barbados.
What do you think about what the African Heritage Foundation is saying?
Should you want to contribute to what the African Heritage Foundation is doing to promote and assist the development of homeschooling in Barbados you can make you contribution to our GoFundMe campaign.
Written by Anonymous