Not An Asian Stereotype: Asa’s Story


Pseudonym note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Asa” is a pseudonym.

I am Taiwanese-American (ethnically Han Chinese). I was homeschooled for most of my life until I went to college. (I attended Patrick Henry College for several semesters before transferring to another Christian college.)

This should go without saying, but I can only speak for myself and from my own experience and observations. I cannot speak for others and my experience does not negate theirs or vice versa.

My experience with homeschooling has been mostly positive, and race has been no exception. Almost every homeschooled person I’ve known has been very welcoming of my race or ethnicity. This was true even in overwhelmingly white Caucasian communities of people.

The American homeschooling community is very white Caucasian, and since there are fewer homeschoolers of minority races, I think such minority people attracted more curiosity or attention. It was a good conversational ice-breaker, though.  Since homeschoolers tend to be a largely Christian crowd, a lot of their interactions and conversations with me had to do with missions and what God was doing in foreign countries. Quite a few conversations revolved around China and the Chinese government.

There is a tendency for Asians to be seen as foreigners in America, though, I think, more so than people of other races. (I’m referring here to the views held by Americans as a whole, not just homeschoolers.) I think it’s because Asia is halfway across the globe – about as far away from the USA as you can get – and also because Asians comprise a relatively small percentage of the US (as compared to, say, African-Americans and Hispanics.) Time also plays a factor.  African-Americans, for instance, have been part of the American societal fabric for a lot longer than Asians, and hence may be perceived by Americans as being more ‘American’ than Asians. To be fair, some Asian-Americans view each other the same way. It may be a situation that only time can improve. For reasons of this sort, I also don’t think that we’ll ever see an Asian-American President of the United States.  But I digress.

Society always clings to certain stereotypes. In my experience, though, some homeschoolers held some positive stereotypes about certain races – for instance, that Asians were good at math and science, that African-American men excelled at basketball, etc. In a way, it’s a compliment, I suppose. This may have been due to, as mentioned earlier, there being relatively few minority people in the homeschooling community, which sometimes allows stereotypes to persist longer. But positive stereotypes are much better than negative stereotypes, of course.

I tend to be quite different than most American stereotypes of Asians. I’m terrible at a lot of math, for instance; I struggle with algebra and trigonometry, although I’m good at simple, quick arithmetic.

I’ve also noticed that a lot of racism in America is not by white people against minorities, but rather, by minorities against each other. Racism by minorities against each other doesn’t get addressed as much in American society as it ought to.

In summary, my experience in the American homeschooling community has been, for the most part, a friendly, welcoming and positive one.

I realize that by sharing a positive experience about homeschooling and race, my story may not fit in with your Homeschooling and Race article. But I hope you will not disqualify it from being published for that reason.

The Deep Drone of Unseen Cicadas: Gary’s Story


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’m not.

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.

Slaves, Heroes and Communists: Home Schooling and Race Education


About the author: Annelise Pierce blogs at She spends her days being a mom first and a free-lance writer second while spending as much time as humanly possible thinking and reading about the issues that she cares about most. Annelise has lived all over the map, first with the Navy and then in East Africa. Now she and her family are having a quiet rooted time in the Beautiful Northern California.

I was home schooled my whole childhood or “all the way through” as the home school community proudly refers to it.   My family of origin is intelligent, curious, and out-of-the-box. That’s probably what led them to home educate, a way of life that allowed them to emphasize their particular form of intelligence and indulge their curiosity and worldviews with a rapt audience of six – children, that is.

My mother taught me all I knew about history. I didn’t have the internet to turn to in those days and every library book I brought home was carefully checked over for appropriateness. Some were turned away, even books about historical fiction. Some were not considered appropriate. I was never sure why, as my hurried and discrete pre-review behind the library aisles had not yielded any sign of falling in love, bodies touching or other topics that might anger my mother. Over time I learned from her that some people’s ideas of history were threatening, even dangerous. That much of the world wanted to teach me a series of lies and that if I believed them I too would be a bad person. This was why we didn’t read a lot of those kinds of books.

This left me with an ever-present feeling of vague dread and a deep distrust for the world around me. I realize only now that perhaps it is part of why I never liked history much. It seemed like endless stories of war with dubious winners and a thousand dates to memorize. I found few heroes there, few people I would wish to emulate or who led me to dream of how I myself could change the world.

My mother had a hero though. He was Robert E Lee, a southern general during the Civil War. We celebrated his birthday with cake most years. I still remember that.

I remember too, hearing about some of the villains of history. There were the obvious ones such as Hitler and Stalin. And some that remained shrouded in mystery such as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, evil in a way that I did not understand and which was never talked about.

In my twelve years of schooling I never learned more about Martin Luther King than that he was a communist. 

Needless to say we did not eat cake or get a day off on his birthday – with home schooling, you get to choose your own holidays.

No, we never learned about MLK, we just skipped right over that part of the A Beka textbook, because even Christian textbooks aren’t all good. We did, however, learn lots about the War Between the States. Not the Civil War . . . . we were carefully taught that that name itself was propaganda. Books on the War Between the States populated our shelves and we learned in detail how a few bad slave owners were used to color the whole bunch of slave owners and make them all look bad. Most of them, we were taught, were actually a kind group of people who were doing the best they could to look after the African slaves and give them a chance at a good life.

This puzzled and worried me as I have always had a strong sense of justice for as long as I can remember and the idea of slavery always felt so wrong. To add to my puzzlement, I remember that we had home schooling friends growing up who believed slavery was still a healthy way of life. They called themselves theonomists – they were looking to create slave relationships but somehow it hadn’t worked out yet. I remember wondering as I watched their two cute young children, how you went about finding someone to be your slave? It seemed strange, dark and frightening, yet they looked so normal. I wondered how their children would grow up.

Now, at thirty-four I have found new friends and new perspectives – ones that fit my deep calling to justice. I am still exploring the great big wide world of history as seen with no blinders on. My heroes are MLK, Ghandi and Mandela. I am reading my way through Maya Angelou’s autobiographical series and loving every minute of it. I follow Feminista Jones and I learn every day about what race is and how it shapes me and those around me. I teach my children about white privilege.   We read and reread books about Ruby Bridges and they marvel at a little girl’s courage to stand up for equality.

History will always be a matter of perspective. But the wonder of multiple history teachers is that we learn over time that each person’s perspective on history is different; that even those recording the “facts” have their own bias. That is what I missed when I home schooled “the whole way through.” And that is what my children could so easily have missed too, had I drunk the Kool-aid and continued the home educating cycle without reading and learning outside of the boundaries I had been given.

This is what can make home education dangerous – propaganda. Yes, that very word I learned to fear growing up, used so often about the “left wing”, “communists” and public schools is very much a part of home education too. It surfaces in a million ways with a million stories. And as it touches our young, developing brains, it shapes the very fabric of who we are.

I’m glad that I am someone else now.

White Supremacist Homeschooling


HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Jonny Scaramanga’s blog, Leaving Fundamentalism. It was originally published on August 26 2014, and has been modified for publication on HA.

So here’s the most horrible thing I’ve found in a while: White Pride Homeschooling.

I don’t even want to give their page the extra traffic, so I’m linking to an archived version of their website (from August 2014).

From their website (Warning: you are about to read racist propaganda):

The biggest increase in intermarriage has occurred in recent years, due to the social interaction of children of different races in the school room and subsequently the board room and then bedroom. In the year 2000 – 9 percent of married men and women below age 30 were intermarried, compared with 7 percent of those ages 30 to 44, 5 percent for those ages 45 to 59, and about 3 percent among those age 60 and older. Obviously school busing, the promotion of interracial marriages by “Christian” preachers, visible images in all types of media, and 12 (plus) years of social conditioning in the schools for each and every child has had a devastating effect on the racial integrity of white America.

Gotta love the use of square quotes around “Christian” in the above paragraph, because obviously true Christians are racist Christians.

Yup, this is a Christian organisation. No doubt you are wondering which curriculums they suggest parents can use without polluting the minds of their pure Aryan offspring.

In no particular order:

Bob Jones University Press

Alpha Omega (pretty much a clone of ACE, but reputedly more academically challenging)

CLASS (the Christian Liberty Academy School System, which produces a custom curriculum based on a mixture of texts from publishers including A Beka and Bob Jones)

And, of course, Lighthouse Christian Academy, which is the homeschool wing of Accelerated Christian Education.


You may be surprised. You should not be.

Now, I am not saying that Accelerated Christian Education is a white supremacist organisation. I’m sure ACE would prefer to distance itself from such racism (Side note: Dear ACE, if you publicly condemn this organisation, I will write one blog post in which I say nothing but nice things about you). But it is telling that the bigots at White Christian Homeschool find ACE’s materials entirely compatible with their aims.

The fact that ACE’s cartoons depict segregated classrooms means that Mrs White Supremacist Homeschool Mom can rest assured that the materials will reinforce what she is already telling her children: White kids should be separated from the other kids. After all, these white supremacists don’t hate black people. They even link to the National Black Home Educators Resource Association, explaining: “As we encourage a Christian lifestyle for all races and do not believe in integrated classrooms – we are providing this link.” See, they’re thoughtful really.

Bob Jones University’s presence in this company is even less of a surprise, given that organisation’s history of white supremacism. It’s not entirely clear when BJU would have abandoned its discriminatory entrance policy if the political climate had not forced it to do so by 1975.

If all this is shocking you, clearly you need to bone up on your history.

Biblical literalism lends itself quite comfortably to racism. “Slaves obey your masters” is a clear-cut instruction. Although my Christian teachers loved to remind me that the British Abolitionist William Wilberforce was a Christian, they tended to gloss over the fact that most of those opposing him were Christians too.

As Mark Noll noted of the US Civil War, and Carolyn Renee Dupont argued about American segregation, racists have always found ammunition in the pages of the Bible. And this is partly because of the way they read it.

Today fundamentalists condemn racism (and they find Bible verses to support that, too). But the way they encourage children to read the Bible has not changed. As a non-believer, of course, I don’t hold the Bible sacred at all, but it seems clear to me that if you’re going to study it, you need to pay attention to the context in which things were written. The Bible is a compilation of books by different authors who made different points, so you cannot conclude “what the Bible says about X” from any single passage.

It’s funny, isn’t it, that Christians suddenly started noticing that the Bible was opposed to racism shortly after it became culturally unacceptable to be racist.

I don’t care whether you can find more verses in the Bible to support racism or to condemn it. All that matters is that it’s possible to support both positions quite well from the text. And this proves that the way ACE (and its ilk) teach children to read the Bible in fact does nothing to prepare them for the real world.

When You’re Raised by Racists: Junia’s Story


Pseudonym note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Junia” is a pseudonym.

I was raised by a mother who was intensely racist.

I didn’t realize it for years, but she was, and is. My father is as well, but less obviously, more in an oblivious sort of way.

As far as education went, I always thought that we received above average education. My mother was committed to good education, erudition was a trait that my parents prized highly, to the point that friends of the family would comment on how intelligent we were and note it as a family thing. I will always be grateful for the education I received from her and from the other teachers, both in co-ops and online, that she arranged. But one area that I completely missed was race.

We’re white, with one distant Native American ancestor. But otherwise we’re Western and Northern European through and through. I never realized until the past year how much this has colored, no pun intended, my life and worldviews.

With history we were raised on the motto, “The South was Right.”

Slavery was justified because of Bible passages about how to treat slaves. If slavery was inherently wrong God would have banned it, wouldn’t He? We listened to speeches from the group The League of the South and read its literature. It’s still hard for me to admit that this group promotes racial inequality by justifying slavery. I was really into the Civil War, or as I called it, the War Between the States, in high school. I spent hours reading about it, but almost nothing from the perspective of anyone in the Union or the perspective of people like Harriet Tubman or Frederick Douglass. I even had a livejournal account about the War. Mostly copy/paste of historical documents or letters etc. Inspirational stories about specific individuals.

I had only friend growing up who wasn’t white. She was mixed race, her dad was black and her mom was white. She and I used to play together a lot. I’m not sure why my mother was okay with us, why she was friends with the family, but I guess the whiteness of the mom made the family safe as far as my mother was concerned. I know my friend was really sensitive about being mixed race. She didn’t feel like she fit in anywhere, she was too dark for whites and too white for blacks. At one point in high school she saw my livejournal account and asked me to take it down because she was offended.

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t.

I told her that she shouldn’t be offended, I was just posting historical things. We drifted apart, for a lot of different reasons.

None of this is to say that I believed in white superiority or hated blacks or anything like that. I just obliviously dismissed stories of racism as playing the race card. I was uneducated about the true story of racial inequality and hate and the continuing structural racism that exists today. I was never allowed to read To Kill a Mockingbird as a child because my mother said it was racial propaganda designed to stir up race hate. I thought Nelson Mandela was a terrorist because the only times I heard my parents mention him were in negative contexts. A friend asked me within the last year if I knew who Jackie Robinson was and I had no idea. My boyfriend, now my husband, was the first person to tell me about the LA Race Riots. That they even took place.

Even this year I still clung to the idea that Southerners weren’t racist, they had slaves, but they weren’t really racists. There must be some misunderstanding. There’s just misunderstood regional pride. White people have moved on now anyway, we don’t allow slavery any more. People just play the race card when they don’t want to face that they didn’t get a job because they weren’t as qualified, etc. That minorities use their race as a weapon to get ahead.

I was blind to my privilege because I was born with the skin tone I have.

Then there was the murder of Trayvon Martin. I was angry and sad. I saw it as a crime that was at the very least made more likely because of Martin’s race, and at worst as racially motivated. But my awareness was still embryonic. It was after that that I decided that I should read To Kill a Mockingbird and find out what it was all about. I was shocked. I thought it was an exaggeration for monetary profit on the part of the author. I wish that had been true.

A few months later I read a newspaper article about the conviction of the ringleader in the murders in 1964 of the civil rights workers James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. I was horrified. I read the comments on the article and I didn’t know what one of the commentators was talking about when he referenced Emmett Till, murdered in 1955 at the age of 14. I felt sick to my stomach as I read accounts of what happened to him. A 14 year old boy was beaten and murdered for daring to flirt with a white woman, at worst for being obscene (if you were to believe what local white people said of him).

I now realized that To Kill a Mockingbird really wasn’t exaggerating.

It was all to true to reality. Then I followed more links and saw the records of more deaths, schoolgirls blown up in a church, men and women murdered sometimes just on the side of the road because of their race, men and women both white and black murdered because they were peacefully protesting inequality.

There was a whole world of pain that I was utterly unaware of.

When I was in middle school and high school I vaguely remember that my older sister who had married at 18 and left our home say things about racial inequality. My parents would say that she was just full of white guilt, and that it wasn’t right for us to feel guilty about the crimes that some white people committed against those of other races. I had never investigated for myself, to my shame.

I was perpetuating racism without being aware of it. And I would have been more in tune with reality if I had been taught about racism and black people with any depth. If my knowledge of blacks in American history hadn’t been limited to knowing a lot about George Washington Carver and that Rosa Parks was tired and said no. If I hadn’t been told that Harriet Tubman was making the problems worse by encouraging runaways, which was clearly in violation of things like the book of Philemon.

But I was taught a white centric view of American history and life.

I feel deeply handicapped in dealing with life today because there was so much racism in my family of origin and I am so far behind in what I should know about what minorities, especially blacks, have been facing at the hands of a white dominated society.

I’m grateful in so many ways that I was educated at home. But because of the issue of race, I would never be a homeschooling parent.

Adult Children of the Quiverfull Movement on Race


HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on May 10, 2012. This post is part of Libby Anne’s “Raised Quiverfull” interview series, where young adults from families influenced by the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements answer questions about their upbringing. 

Q: What role did race play in the Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull community in which you grew up? Were there any black or hispanic families? Were they treated differently?


In the church I grew up in, there was never a non-white member – ever.  The church was not overtly racist, though they had issues with illegal immigration, but the services were very boring and would not have fit into a culture different from a bunch of white dudes and one off key old lady singing How Great Thou Art from a hymnal, accompanied by a piano, then sitting through a two hour sermon that sounded the same every Sunday.  But I attended a public grade school and high school where it was proudly noted that we had over 57 different nationalities represented.  My best friends throughout my school years were all African America, Asian, and American Indian.


The homeschooling community was extremely white, but we did know several black and Hispanic homeschooling families, with varying levels of involvement in CP/Q.  I don’t remember noticing any racism at the time.  The cold-shoulder treatment seemed to be saved for families that were not fully committed to homeschooling, regardless of race.

Libby Anne:

The families we associated with were all white. I honestly can’t think of any minority Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull families – or even any minority families in our homeschool groups (which included ordinary conservative Christian families in addition to those who followed the teachings of Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull). That said, my parents were emphatically anti-racist, and if a black Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull family had come into our community I don’t think it would have been a problem for them at all.


While my parents said that all human beings were perfectly made by God and equal, my Dad didn’t like us mixing with the black families. There were two families we had closer contact with, and my parents were very friendly, but we weren’t allowed to play with them. I think that was because my Dad didn’t want us to consider one of them as a possible spouse. He was against interracial marriage. I remember a nice lady who was married to a Mexican, she was treated differently, as were their son. Not that anybody said anything, but she was never invited and people avoided talking to her too much.


Where we lived in CA was a very rural area, so there were mostly white, blue-collar folks in our homeschool group. There were a lot of Hispanics in our church, but we were the only homeschoolers.

When we moved to VA, there was a lot more diversity in the homeschooling community, but those adhering to the ideas of the Quiverfull movement were primarily white and upper-middle class. People didn’t treat each other differently and race was pretty much irrelevant.


I do not remember knowing anyone who was black. I met a few mixed white/Hispanic families in the community. I don’t think race was a huge issue in my family in particular, my dad had attended many black gospel churches as a child, and had a sort of nostalgic affection for black spirituality. We were around people in the homeschool movement who felt that the confederacy should have won the civil war and that the loss of that war had led to a major downslide in Christianity in America. I was never 100% clear on what my parents’ position was in that regard.


I had no racially diverse acquaintances in my childhood, but to be fair, I didn’t really have many acquaintances at all. For a brief time I was friends with a Hispanic girl down the street, but I wasn’t allowed to go to her house, so she soon got bored of me. My dad went to an African American Baptist church in Chicago when he was a kid, and he always spoke fondly of his memories there. We never really discussed race, but I remember my dad telling me that interracial marriage was not a sin. It wasn’t until my late teens that I had any interaction with people outside my race or religion. It took me a long time to learn how to interact comfortably with diverse groups of people. I’ve always felt that that was one of the major flaws in my upbringing.


My church was solidly multiracial. Black families were not treated any differently from white families, as far as I could tell. The church did fetishize the Spanish language and would commonly ask Hispanic men to sing praise songs in Spanish before the service. We also attracted a Korean mother and daughter. The main difference between white and nonwhite believers in my church was homeschooling. Racial minorities did not homeschool, probably for economic reasons. My church regarded racial diversity as a positive sign that God’s Word was universal, but maintained a strict policy against interracial marriage.


White, middle class Protestants were we all. It was a very segregated world. I never even had a black or Hispanic friend growing up, and there were no opportunities to cultivate such a friendship.  I definitely feel like I missed out in that regard. Exposure to other groups and cultures can be so enriching, and I had very little of that. The church I attend now is racially and culturally diverse, and coincidentally so is the neighborhood I currently live in, and this exposure to a wider world has been like a breath of fresh air, even though I can have a difficult time connecting– mostly because I don’t know how. It’s getting easier with time, though.

Accelerated Christian Education’s Ugly History of Racism


About the author: Jonny Scaramanga blogs on Accelerated Christian Education and leaving fundamentalism at his blog, Leaving Fundamentalism. He is building a resource on ACE here, and collects survivor stories from students with experience of ACE. Also by Jonny on HA: “How I (Barely) Survived Home Schooling.”

I remember staring at the text:

Economics is the major reason that apartheid exists. Some people want to abolish apartheid immediately. That action would certainly alter the situation in South Africa, but would not improve it.

It was 1996; I was 11. Nelson Mandela had been president of South Africa for two years, and apartheid had been officially abolished in South Africa for five. I was not exactly well informed about the situation. I knew it was complicated, and that the country was not exactly without problems. But I also knew that apartheid had been an evil thing that had treated black people as less than human. I suspected my book was written by a racist. I didn’t say anything about it to my parents though. That wasn’t how ACE worked. You just got on with it in silence.

ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) was at one time the leading curriculum for Christian day schools and home schools. It’s still big; ACE doesn’t publish numbers of home schoolers using it, but a claimed 6,000 schools worldwide are on the ACE program. I wasn’t the first person to notice that the curriculum had some ugly things to say about apartheid. In 1993, David J. Dent (writing for the New York Times news service) quoted an ACE book that said:

Although apartheid appears to allow the unfair treatment of blacks, the system has worked well in South Africa … Although white businessmen and developers are guilty of some unfair treatment of blacks, they turned South Africa into a modern industrialized nation, which the poor, uneducated blacks couldn’t have accomplished in several more decades. If more blacks were suddenly given control of the nation, its economy and business, as Mandela wished, they could have destroyed what they have waited and worked so hard for.

This quotation came to light when a black student, Priscila Dickerson, complained about it. Her school’s principal claimed that ACE’s racism was part of the reason the school used it. Dent quotes him as saying, “Racism still exists, and that’s one advantage of using a curriculum like this because we can show students that.”

Not long after I finished the lesson on apartheid, I struck up an email friendship with a disgruntled employee of ACE in Texas. I told him I’d noticed one or two things in my books which seemed kinda racist, and asked him what things were like where he worked. “Put it this way,” the ACE employee replied. “The only black guys working here are the janitors.”

In 1998, the book I’d used was finally updated. Now it said, “God’s Word teaches that no people should ever be wrongfully treated because of their race, since all people are created in God’s image.” That’s a lot better. But it also says this:

Apartheid was excused for several decades because of the advanced industrialization of the nation. However, due to the carnal nature of man, apartheid was also used to exploit the nonvoting black majority.

ACE, Social Studies 1086 (1998 revision)

I’ll let you judge whether I’m being biased about this, but I’m still not happy with that wording. The second sentence says apartheid was “used to exploit” black people because of “the carnal nature of man”. To me this sounds like they’re saying apartheid is not intrinsically exploitative; it was just used that way because men are sinful. In a perfect, non-sinful world, it seems to imply, you could have a system of apartheid were people were kept officially separated but not exploited, and this would be fine. That’s no world I want to live in.

In 2009, ACE again hit the headlines for defending apartheid.

Actually, ACE had worked hard to avoid allegations of racism. In his 1980 book Under Tutors and Governors, ACE’s VP Ronald Johnson devoted an entire chapter to denying that the schools were for whites only. According to Paul F. Parsons’ book Inside America’s Christian Schools, by 1987 ACE had a policy of refusing to sell its curriculum to schools with discriminatory admissions policies. There are one or two explicitly anti-racist statements in the curriculum, too. They hailed Martin Luther King as a Christian hero, and praised the Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregation in American schools (although these blips are not enough to stop ACE from being endorsed by white supremacists).

There had always been a suspicion that private Christian schools in America were associated with racism, fuelled by the fact that their explosion in popularity happened shortly after segregation was outlawed in public schools. In ACE’s case, the suspicion was intensified by the fact that ACE’s founder, Donald Howard, had attended Bob Jones University, at that time a notoriously white supremacist institution. BJU’s chancellor had long preached about how God intended for the races to be separate, and BJU did not accept black students until 1971—as Wikipedia notes, this was eight years after the University of South Carolina and Clemson University were integrated by court order—and even then only if those black students were married. In 1970, institutions with racially discriminatory admissions policies were barred from receiving tax exemptions. BJU filed suit to stop the IRS from removing its tax exemption. Ultimately BJU changed its policy and allowed all black students to enroll, just moments before the Supreme Court decision that made it illegal for colleges to discriminate based on race. Still, BJU didn’t allow students of different ethnicities to date until the year 2000.

I can find no record of Donald Howard or anyone else from ACE ever speaking out against BJU’s racism. Instead, Howard wrote (in his 1979 book, Rebirth of Our Nation):

Regardless of the reactions of the media, the Christian school movement is not racist. Schools are opening in white and black communities alike. Schools are segregated, integrated, multiracial, and as cross-sectioned as any program that’s all-American.

So the schools are integrated and segregated, huh? He seems to be saying that the schools can choose whether to be segregated or not. I wonder if he also thought slavery was a states’ rights issue.

It wasn’t until years after I escaped my ACE ordeal that someone pointed out what had been staring me in the face: ACE’s books depict segregated schools. Most ACE books have cartoons set in a fictional city called Highland. There are two Christian schools (and adjoining churches) in Highland: Highland Christian School, and Harmony Christian School. The students and the staff at Highland are all white. The students and staff at Harmony are all black. According to one of ACE’s books, Social Studies 1029 (page 7), “Harmony is a part of the larger community of Highland.” So it’s a ghetto, then.

In the last five years, ACE has been revising its curriculum entirely, and the new editions feature new cartoons. You’d think that in this new era, when even BJU has publicly apologised for its racist past, ACE would redraw the cartoons with integrated communities.

That is not what they’ve done.

Instead, they’ve added a new, third church-school, called Heartsville. The ethnicity of those in Heartsville is best described as “other”: Some appear to be Asian, and some Latino. Rather than abolishing segregation, ACE has reinforced ethnic divides by splitting its fictional universe into “white”, “black”, and “somewhere in between”.

I feel lucky that I noticed ACE’s stance on apartheid was ugly. Because I recognised it was racist, I could choose to reject it, although I worried about other students who might not. I’m much more bothered about the page-and-a-half of casual racism that introduces ACE’s study of Asia, because I only noticed it when I re-read it last year. I never noticed at the time, which means I thought this was OK (or I just didn’t bother reading it, which is completely possible given that you can complete ACE work just by skimming the text to find the missing word to write on the blank):

Michael tried to fight his panic as he raced from place to place, searching vainly for something familiar.

In desperation, Michael watched the people passing him on the street, but their physical appearance provided him no comfort. Their skin was light brown, their hair was dark and straight, and the inner fold of their eyelids made their eyes seem to slant.

If you were suddenly transported to a village like the one in which Michael found himself, how would you react? Far Eastern cultures, languages, and religions seem alien to most Europeans and Americans. Oriental people appear mysterious and inscrutable, and their religions seem strange. Do these people have anything in common with European or American Judeo-Christian heritage and beliefs?

ACE, Social Studies 1106 (Geography), 2002 revision.

People I trusted gave me this as a schoolbook, and none of them ever commented on it to me. Either they too thought it was OK, or they didn’t read it. And whichever one it is, it’s inexcusable coming from people whose job was to teach me.

I don’t think ACE would accept that their books are racist, and I don’t think they intend to be. The newest books have pictures of a more ethnically diverse group of people than the old ones, and I even found two cartoons (TWO!) where black children are pictured in the same classroom as white ones. I don’t think ACE’s authors are hateful; they’re just ignorant. But when education is your business, ignorance is no excuse.

Every year, ACE holds regional and international student conventions. Students from ACE schools and home schools around the world come together to compete in various events, from athletics to preaching. As you’d expect from a fundamentalist organisation, the dress code is very strict.

And it has different acceptable hairstyles for black boys and white boys.

If you’re a white boy, you can have hair any length as long as it is off your collar and above your ears. If you’re black, though, your hair can’t be longer than one inch.

Oh, it doesn’t say this is a racially discriminatory policy. The exact wording is “Extra curly or afro hair is not to exceed one inch in length”. But the fact that this is also going to affect a small minority of white students doesn’t change the fact that this policy discriminates against black boys. While most white boys’ hair is neat and appropriate at three inches, a black boy’s natural hair at the same length is somehow offensive and indecent. And if you turn up with hair that doesn’t fit the dress code, you’ll be turned away: “Those who require a haircut will not be permitted to register until they have located a barber and complied with the Student Convention standards.”

ACE’s ugly history of racism seems to still be alive and well.

How We Removed Anything That Might Make America Look Less Godly: Liz’s Story


Pseudonym note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Liz” is a pseudonym.

I don’t know if my story about race is what you are looking for. I am a white southerner and have never had a close friend of another race.

In my small circle of homeschoolers and other like-minded, ultra-conservative Christians, I don’t think I ever saw a person of another race.  

Oh, except for adopted children. They were the only exception. I distinctly remember a family coming to our church and two of the children were biracial.  I can’t remember if anything specific was said, but I had the impression that this was somehow shameful.  They weren’t adopted, I guess that makes a difference.

What I distinctly remember is my dad giving us talks about the problems with interracial dating/marriage.  He would say that he didn’t have a problem with it and had even dated a black girl once, but that the cultural differences were so large that he felt it did not make for a good marriage.  Now that I think about it, I find it odd and slightly laughable that the only racial conversations we ever had were focused on the civil war or marriage. I’m not even sure why he discussed this with us since he had to “approve” anyone who wanted to date us anyway. He could have easily weeded out anyone of an “inappropriate race.”

The idea of having just a friendship with someone of a different race was never even discussed.

My schooling was very clear on a few key facts about race.  Let me preface this by saying, this is not what I now believe at all, but it is what I was taught:

  • One, the civil war was not about slavery, it was only about states’ rights.

Slaves were actually treated very well and many were not capable of caring for themselves anyway so their white masters were just benevolent care takers.  Slavery would have slowly ended on its own if Abraham Lincoln had just respected the states and stayed out of it.  I remember reading one of the American Girl books about Abby (a black slave girl) and being disgusted that it was so “historically inaccurate” in its portrayal of her life as a slave.

Needless to say, I am ashamed of many things I believed as a child/teenager but I was only believing what I was taught.  

  • The other key point that was drilled into my head about race was that even though slavery was wrong, the civil war was a long time ago and it was high time that black people just let it go.

Of course us calling everyone North of the Mason Dixon line a Yankee wasn’t something we should all let go of. I did not know anything about the civil rights movement.  It was not until I was an adult in college that I realized many of the horrible things that had happened had occurred in the lifetimes of my classmates’ parents and grandparents, not over a 100 years before. Other things had occurred in my own lifetime.

I was shocked and horrified.

No wonder these things hadn’t just been “let go” (as if even the years of slavery should be “let go” anyway no matter how many years have passed). I had been taught for years that black people were entitled and unforgiving (again the irony of southerners still holding quite the grudge against the entire northern half of the country is not lost on me).

It only took a semester of history in college for me to realize how biased and simply wrong my education had been. I had never read a real history book (The Light and the Glory anyone?)  I soaked in every bit of my history classes and went on my own research binges.  I found that there had been terrible race riots in my own rather small hometown–they even made my college textbook.

This was not the first time I was disillusioned with my homeschool education, but it is probably the deficiency I am most ashamed of.  

  • The other race issue that was often discussed in my border state, was all of the “illegals”.

It was made clear that it had nothing to do with their race, only that they were coming into the country illegally.  However, when a white woman came to our church who had also fled her country into the U.S. illegally, the church gave her financial support to continue her fight to stay in the country.  Any person who looked hispanic was considered an illegal alien until proven otherwise.  Not to say this was or is a homeschooling phenomenon. I am a public school teacher and heard a conference between middle school girls about another girl they were purposefully ostracizing because they believed her family was “illegal”.  I have had more than one class discussion about the use of racial slurs in my classroom.

One thing that continues to baffle me is that my parents are very intelligent people.

They both had a public education, which regardless of how good or bad at the very least covered the Jim Crow era. They lived through the civil rights movement. My dad has a college degree and my mom attended 3 years of college.

Where in all of that did they become so brainwashed by the religious and homeschool leaders to think it was okay to simply ignore that part of our history?

Why was it considered right and okay to gloss over or completely remove anything that might make America look less godly or right?  

I also realize that it is likely they were also taught a different but highly biased version of that point in our history (they graduated in the early 70s). But then again, isn’t it the obligation of an educator to overcome their biases, learn, and teach the truth?

I certainly consider it so as a teacher myself — and I am not claiming or trying to be the god-ordained teacher of every subject my children will study.

The Christian Homeschool Movement and Nostalgia


HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on August 29, 2012.

When I was eight or ten, my mom was really interested in finding a particular geography book to use in homeschooling us. Frequently when we would go to a historical home or a museum, she would see it on a shelf and say “There! That’s the book I want!” It was published in 1902, you see. Frye’s Geography. She’d heard it promoted somewhere, at a conference or in a homeschool magazine. She eventually found it used somewhere and was thrilled.

She began using it with us, and while the images were beautiful, it wasn’t hard for me to pick up on the blatant racism it contained.

laFor some reason, the homeschoolers I came in contact with – fundamentalist and evangelical Christians homeschooling for religious reasons – always seemed to have this idea that anything that was old must be better than what we have now. But, as Frye’s Geography made clear to me, just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s better.

Frye’s Geography is only one example. When it came female advice, I read Stepping Heavenward and Beautiful Girlhood, both also over a hundred years old. I was assigned chapters of Beautiful Girlhood as punishment sometimes, when mom decided, I suppose, that my girlhood was not being “beautiful” enough.

I also spent years and years studying Latin. And you know what? I really haven’t used it, and I don’t really foresee myself using it in the future. Sure, word roots and all that, but you can get a lot of that from studying a language like Spanish as well, or from taking just a year or two of Latin, as opposed to ten. Honestly? I wish I’d studied Spanish. But Latin, you see, was old, and back in the nineteenth century every school child studied Latin, so Latin it was.

It seemed like recreational reading was similar – anything that was published a hundred years ago or more, or even fifty years ago, was more approved and smiled on than something published today. We grew up reading dozens of Elsie Dinsmore books and G. A. Henty books, most purchased from Vision Forum. Once again, these  books were racist. The Elsie Dinsmore books idealized the Old South while G. A. Henty books were wrought through with British imperialism. But they were old, dag namit! They were written over a hundred years ago, so they must be good and godly!

I think that’s what it comes down to, really. In Christian homeschooling circles there’s this idolization of the past and this demonization of the present to the extent that anything that’s old is almost as default seen as good and anything that is new is by default held as suspect. Given that reality, it’s really not a surprise that companies like Vision Forum not only live in the past but also market the past, or that companies like Lamplighter operate by republishing old books and marketing them to homeschoolers.

The thing is, the “olden days” were not some sort of wonderland without divorce, sexual promiscuity, or violence. The faults of the present day that Christian homeschoolers are so quick to point to existed then too. Believe it or not, New York City already had a gay subculture. Prostitution thrived. Divorce rates may have been lower, but the trade off was abusive marriages. Women still got pregnant out of wedlock, and people still had premarital sex. And even more than all that, racism was rampant, the poor starved to death, and children died early deaths working in the coal mines.

The reality is that the “good old days” Christian homeschoolers look at so wistfully didn’t exist, and that just because something is old doesn’t mean it was better.

Unfortunately, plenty of Christian homeschoolers are more than willing to go on idolizing a myth, and part of that idolization means buying up all the old books companies like Vision Forum and Lamplighter can find space to print.

Why Homeschoolers Should Encourage Multi-Cultural Appreciation: Lisa’s Story


Lisa is a homeschool graduate currently attending Patrick Henry College.

I was homeschooled my entire life. I’m the oldest in a large family. I’m also a second-generation immigrant kid. My parents are both immigrants from India.

Indian homeschoolers are very rare, and in 15 years of being homeschooled, I’ve only met about 3 other Indian homeschooled families. I must say that I have never been discriminated against because of my race. However, in my experience, the general attitude of the homeschool community towards non-white cultures leaves much to be desired.

Fitting into American society as a first or second-generation immigrant presents its own dilemmas. In my experience, not many in the homeschool community seem interested in understanding these challenges. When explaining this to a friend, she began to complain about (in her words) “hyphenated Americans.” Indian-American, African-American, and Japanese-American were terms that bothered her. She asked, “Why the prefix? Why can’t they just be Americans?” When I wondered whether I could wear a sari for a formal school even, someone said, “But you’re American, right?”

It doesn’t help that the majority of homeschooling material seems to bear a “West is best” mentality.

It often feels as if only exports from Europe and America merit careful study. My parents did a great job teaching us about our own culture, but there was a time when I accepted the idea that America must be inherently better than any other place in the world. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to live in India that I truly appreciated my heritage. My brother takes online video classes from a prominent homeschool curriculum provider. In his World History and Geography class, the teacher wrote three things about India on the whiteboard: Hinduism, socialism, caste system. (None of those things are necessarily false, but if that’s all you can teach about one of the world’s oldest civilizations, something’s wrong.) The subsequent teaching made it obvious the only positive things about India are the Western missionaries that came there.

It would be unfair to act as though these experiences completely defined my experienced as a non-white homeschooler. For example, I only considered wearing the sari because another homeschooled friend suggested it. At Patrick Henry College, I wear Indian outfits on occasion and no one seems to mind. The history professor who teaches Western Civilization talks to me about Indian politics and his love of South Indian food. Throughout my homeschool experience and even more so at college, I have met many homeschoolers who are genuinely interested in learning about other cultures. At the same time, I have heard many fellow students wholeheartedly defend Western colonization and dismiss accusations of imperialism as part of a liberal, anti-Western agenda.

While I’m certainly not asking that every homeschooler be an expert in non-Western cultures, some respect, appreciation, and understanding would be welcomed. I think that this is even more vital as society becomes increasingly globalized. This does require exposure, for how can you appreciate something that you’ve never experienced? Non-Western cultures have history, music, art, and literature as rich as any European country and equally worth studying. Today, this is as easy as a library run, a Google search, or a field trip. If it considered important, Tagore and Japanese haikus can easily fit in a homeschooled lesson plan alongside Wordsworth and Austen.

I think that fostering multi-cultural appreciation can, and should be, encouraged in the homeschool community.

In my personal experience, it has not been a priority for homeschoolers in general. If it were, homeschooling would be more attractive to an increasingly diverse range of people. Kids, parents, and the movement as a whole would only benefit.