As the homeschool movement gains social acceptance, more black families are pulling our kids from underperforming public schools and even from private schools where our bright kids are losing their way.
But once we get them home, there is much debate about whether kids should be allowed to simply do what they love. The premise for Penelope’s blog is that kids should not be forced to learn things in which they have no interest, that kids don’t need to go to college to create a fulfilling life. Many of her readers are in agreement with that position.
But I wonder if that approach is feasible for black families. I think it’s great that some homeschooling parents can allow their kids to do what they love. It’s wonderful that some people don’t make their kids do what they don’t what to do. It works for a quirky white kid – with no college degree but a passion for “X” he might still be able to get a job or even raise money to start a company doing “X”.
That strategy will not be so easy for my little boy who will grow up to be a black man. My little boy is adorable and everyone thinks he’s so smart and wise beyond his years. But when he grows into a black man, people will not think he is adorable. No one will care that he grew up middle class, with two parents, each of whom hold advanced degrees. No one will care that he plays violin, loves to learn and has a passion for anything.
When my grown son walks into a room, people will see him just like they do any other black man on the street: some with dread, some with apprehension, most with a stereotype that is nothing like the man that he is.
As a black man, my son will need a base line of credentials before anyone will even consider him in the professional world. He’ll need something that says he belongs to the club. What kind of job can a black man with no degree get?
Without the degree, my son would be just another uneducated black man with a hustle. A statistic. Possibly even a hoodlum. Wouldn’t it be irresponsible of me not to encourage and prepare him for college? A college degree may be a waste of time for some but it’s never a waste for a black kid
So while I agree that kids should be allowed and encouraged to follow their passion, I think that black homeschooled kids must study subjects that the new homeschooling middle class has decided to eschew. Doing without those subjects is simply an extravagance that black kids cannot afford.