Pseudonym note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Gary” is a pseudonym. Also by Gary on HA: “Hurts Me More Than You: Gary’s Story”.
I sit here thinking, How do I talk about something like Homeschooling and Race? How do I talk about something that was both rarely spoken of and yet a constant background noise? Like the deep drone of unseen Cicadas that drowns out all other nighttime sounds?
It’s there. It’s deafening.
But you have to search in the underbrush with a headlamp to find the source.
Race was not a topic I heard often spoken on as a child. Not by the pastors of churches we visited. Not by my parents. Not by the other homeschooling families we interacted with in Washington, Idaho and Montana. It simply was not spoken about.
And by that I mean there were no conversations. If different races were mentioned at all it was in generally neutral to negative terms, but not in an overt way.
As a child I never heard my parents use racial slurs. I never heard pastors or other homeschoolers use racial slurs. Not even a single time. Not once that I recall.
But there was a reason for that:
Other races simply didn’t exist in our closed Homeschool world.
We were from a county that literally had three African American residents. Three. In the whole county. The churches we went to, in the first eighteen years of my life, spanning three states, had not a single, solitary adult member of any other race than white European. None. None at all.
Before the age of eighteen I had met and spoken to exactly five persons of different race than my own, and I thought nothing of this fact. It was simply how things were.
It wasn’t till I was older, when I went off to University at a prominent Fundamentalist University that I started to realize that the lack of diversity in my childhood had not been by chance.
Far from it, it had been by intentional design.
I realized, like a flash of lighting, that one of the key reasons I had been homeschooled for twelve years was to keep me, but more specifically my sisters, apart from other races. But the revelation didn’t stop there. I came to understand that this was one of the key reasons behind the homeschooling of nearly everyone I had grown up knowing.
I learned that many of the families in our homeschool circles had moved out west in the 60’s and 70’s to “escape” integration in the east and south. It was simple reasoning on their part, “other races moving in to our neighborhoods? Fine, we’ll go somewhere there are no other races, as in Montana, Washington and Idaho.” (The lack of diversity was far more marked in these states in the 60’s and 70′ than it is today.)
I found out that many in my social circle growing up were not just motivated by racist ideologies to move west and homeschool, but were actually involved, in at least two cases, deeply involved, in actual racist organizations such as the Aryan Brotherhood.
My eyes were opened to the reality that the reason there had been no other races represented in the churches we had attended was not just because of demographics. It was because these churches were pastored by men who had graduated from Universities that taught, even up till year 2000, that “race-mixing” would bring on the actual rise of the anti-Christ.
Other races were not welcome in churches pastored by men from these Universities……and they knew it.
Like I say: Racism was everywhere — but hidden just under the surface.
After all, how can you see someone react in a negative way to a person of another race if you never even encounter, in any extended way, peoples of other races?
It was one of the driving forces for many of the people I knew for even living in the states they lived in. It certainly was one of the reasons why many of my friends were homeschooled. Not that their parents were afraid their children would have to interact with other races in public school. No, their parents had eliminated that possibility by moving to some of the least diverse places in the Unites States. But they also were homeschooled, in part, because their parents actively and intentionally did not want their children learning about racial equality and other race issues in public schools.
I found all this out later of course. These reasons were never spoken of out loud to us children. After all, why discuss racial issues when there simply are no other races in your child’s life?
Turns out I never heard my parents use racial slurs because we never encountered many members of other races, not because my parents were not more than ready to say those things. Racism it turns out, was the foundation that held up the house, under ground, unseen, largely silent, but there alright, holding up the structure that was my homeschooling experience.
I saw the light when I attended University, and realized that the place that had printed my homeschool textbooks was a place founded, funded and expanded by racist teachings.
I saw the light when my sister was asked out by a man of an other race and my parents displayed an immediate, hysterical and frightening reaction to this occurrence.
I saw the light when we elected Barack Obama as the U.S. President and saw the outpouring of paranoid hatred from every corner of my social circle.
I saw the light when more people of other races started to move into the Caucasian stronghold that was northern Washington, Montana and Idaho, thus providing ample opportunity for those I knew to exhibit racist slurs, ideologies, thought patterns and racial profiling.
I saw it then alright. In all its festering, racist ugliness.
Racial slurs. Bigoted attitudes. Voicing of the real sentiments that led to my family being homeschooled, as well as that of many of my childhood friends. My Facebook feed looks like an exercise in what not to do: Post after post of subtle, and not so subtle, racist bigotry.
I can’t scroll more than a few inches without seeing some post about how our “Muslim President” is pushing “The Gay Agenda” and is “building concentration camps for Christians.” Some of these posts come from my own parents, and most of the others come from the parents of the other homeschooled children I grew up with.
By my estimation at least 75% of the “Homeschool Parents” I knew growing up are die-hard racists.
Turns out that when our parents told us they were homeschooling us to “protect” us, it was to “protect us” from integration. Often times it seemed it was particularly to “protect” my sisters (and other girls) from interacting with the males of other races.
Fifteen years after I finished 12 years of homeschooling, I have reached several conclusions about my homeschool experience in regards to race and racism:
(1) I have come to the conclusion that the “Courtship” model has direct ties to racism, at least in the circles I traveled in.
After all, how can your daughter marry someone of another race if you get to pick her husband? Simple, she can’t. “Problem” solved. I know for a fact that this was part of the reason my parents considered “courtship” for my sisters, and a good part of the reason my parents sent my sisters to a University that (as of that time) did not allow inter-racial dating.
(2) I have come to the conclusion, based on actual conversations with some of the parents involved, including my own, that a good portion of the reason they homeschooled at all was to keep us children separate from other races.
They homeschooled us to propagate specific racist teachings (no interracial marriage etc.) through us. If we were public schooled our minds might be polluted with all that “racial equality” junk, so, homeschooled it is.
(3) I have come to the conclusion a good deal of the time “Homeschooling” is done based off fear.
Fear of other races. Fear of LGBTQ individuals. Fear of other ideologies. Fear of “losing” your children to a culture different than your own. Fear that your children will grow up to be human beings with lives and minds of their own. Fear that after 18 years you won’t be able to control your children anymore, so the only thing to do is to brainwash them into such total submission that they will remain voluntarily under your control after reaching legal adulthood.
And after all this I tell you I am not against homeschooling.
I think that given the right mind-set and reasons, homeschooling may be, in some cases, the very best thing for some children.
But sadly, in my personal experience, homeschooling was used specifically as a tool to isolate myself and my siblings, as well as many of the homeschool children I grew up with, from other races. It was used as the one sure way to make sure my sisters and other girls would never meet, much less attempt to date or marry, anyone of a different race.
Homeschooling was seen as a fail-safe way to insure your children would end up exactly as you intended, in every facet of their lives, attitudes about other races included.
The truth is that no matter how hard you try to isolate and control your children, no matter how pure the strain of brainwashing, no matter how severe the isolation, at some point children grow up. They discover other ways of thinking and decide, ultimately, what is best for them, regardless of your decades of efforts to prevent that very thing from happening.
They may just decide that every single shred of the racist mindset you raised them with is false and try to cleanse it from their minds like the garbage that it is.
I am living proof of this possibility.
A wonderful contribution to the debate, Gary. Thank you for posting. What I wonder at times though: How many of you are there? How many do break free? Do stay-at-home daughters have a chance to break away from the brainwashing without the exposure to, say, college life? – And aren’t the racists, and patriarch-ists, and Quiverfulls ‘winning’ despite all the apostates – simply by generating the proverbial quiver full, out of which maybe 20% of the arrows free themselves from poisonous ideology, but 80% stay in this mindset? Questions, questions, questions….
Gary, Whether or not you’re in a place to, you could write a blog or book or article about your experiences. I don’t say this lightly. I believe you have exceptional skill as a writer; with language and with ideas. You write that homeschooling can come from fear. That’s been the only motivation I’ve known in my friends who homeschooled their children. FEAR. But what’s funny (or not) is that I’m afraid of homeschoolers because of their fear!