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More and more black parents are home-schooling their children - Business Insider
In short, in order to protect their children from school-related racism, more black parents are keeping their kids out of school entirely, writes Ama Mazama, a professor of African American Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia who has written extensively on home-schooling.
She has dubbed the movement "racial protectionism."
Ama Mazama, slight in stature ...
Ama Mazama, slight in stature and wearing a tightly fastened Ruth Bader Ginsberg ponytail, is revving up an Epson projector on a cold and rainy December morning.
The head of graduate African-American studies at Temple University, Mazama - a self-chosen name that translates to "tender and violent love" - is both gentle and commanding at the head of a class.
When she's listening to you, the 48-year-old mother of three squints ever so slightly, as if not quite hearing you or not quite trusting your line of reason.
But she politely guides you, in her French-Caribbean accent, to a logical answer nonetheless.
teaches a lesson on cognitive psychology in a classroom that looks ill-equipped for the task: devoid of whiteboards and desks, outfitted with drums and a piano.
There's commotion from a dog in the nearby kitchen.
Only two pupils are present.
The four of us are cloistered in the "music room" within Mazama's three-story stone home in Germantown.
introduces today's discussion topic - spiritual intelligence - I can't help but think it's a little heavy for her
10-year-old son, Kiamuya, and 13-year-old daughter, Tamu.
Minutes later, the three are not only discussing an array of metaphysical ideas; they're doing so bilingually, alternating "okay" with "d'accord.
kids scribble in their notebooks and exchange occasional giggles, the way children in the back of a traditional classroom would.
But their curriculum is far from traditional, even by homeschooling standards.
is known nationally as an Afrocentrist scholar and linguist, a translator of Marcus Garvey, and, increasingly, one of the most prominent voices of an emerging segment of alternative education: black homeschooling.
started teaching her
oldest boy 13 years ago, she
says, there was nothing by way of research on the topic.
The assumption was that the motivations of homeschooling black Americans were no different from those of the two archetypal camps that were doing so: religious fundamentalists and crunchy-granola progressives.
"People assumed they were doing it for the same reason as white parents," Mazama
But once she
started interviewing parents in seven regions across the country, she
Black parents were nearly as likely to cite racism (24 percent) as their primary motivation as they were to blame the low quality of education in brick-and-mortar schools (25 percent).
dug deeper, interviewing parents one-on-one, she
reached a more damning conclusion: "Racism was interwoven into every reason why they disengaged."
By racism, she
means not only bigoted name-calling, but the full gamut of marginalization within schools: the dearth of black teachers; the over-representation of blacks in special education and disciplinary actions; their under-representation in honor tracks; the Eurocentricity of curricula; the 15-point gap in high-school graduation rates between blacks and whites.
But the data, however important, wasn't as devastating as what Mazama heard.
As much as parents want to believe in American education as the great equalizer, its infrastructure remains skewed for some to succeed and others to fail - or, at best, simply to get by.
"It's not necessarily that they stopped believing in quote-unquote the American Dream," says Mazama
With double standards in schools ranging from cash-strapped inner-city institutions to those in posh suburban districts, Mazama
found that black parents didn't know where to turn to educate their kids.
moves to circumvent that "imposition of whiteness.
Aside from a novel each by John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway (she has a soft spot for those stories), her
children read no white authors; during the lesson on spiritual intelligence, all the examples in Mazama's
PowerPoint were African-American or Native American.
"I made a point of not teaching anything from white history, white literature, white nothing," she
When I ask Mazama
heard about a homeschooling center opening up less than a mile from her
home, I get one of her
gentle, skeptical stares.
We're standing in her
foyer, the sound of rain pattering outside.
knows nothing about Natural Creativity
- a response suggesting that homeschooling is growing too fast for even a researcher to keep up.
A racially integrated homeschool experiment like Natural Creativity is another means to expand the growing share of black self-educators, so Mazama
is all for it.
points out that Maryland's Prince George's County, the bastion of black upper-middle-class life in America, has a booming black homeschooling population.
doesn't think it's a coincidence.
"These are black people who see that there's definitely a problem and they decide to do something about it, to remove themselves physically from that environment," she
With racial inequality seemingly at every turn of their children's lives, black parents view homeschooling as an opportunity to claim authority over at least one area: education.
Consider it a new twist on the old African-American proverb "Each one teach one.
Ever the iconoclast, Mazama
sees the potential for this movement to ripple out through society: "There was this woman I spoke to who always would say this: 'If all those black men in prison had been homeschooled, they would not have ended up there.'"
Ama Mazama, a professor of ...
Ama Mazama, a professor of African-American studies at Temple University, also confirms that "Black home-schooling is definitely on the rise.
"Black home-schooling is definitely on ...
"Black home-schooling is definitely on the rise," says Ama Mazama, a professor of African-American studies at Temple University.
It's hard to determine the exact number of home school students, let alone the racial breakdown.
However, most estimates put the total figure at roughly 2 million, and suggest that between 5 and 10 percent are African-Americans.
says black home schoolers tend to come from urban, two-parent households.
The key question, she
adds, is why these families are deciding to leave traditional schools.
Research suggests black families often choose to home school for very different reasons than white families.
"White home schoolers, the number one reason they give when asked is religion," Mazama
Schools "rob black children of the ...
Schools "rob black children of the opportunity to learn about their own culture" because of these curricular biases, Huseman wrote, citing Temple University's Ama Mazama.
"Typically, the curriculum begins African American history with slavery and ends it with the civil-rights movement," Mazama