Guest post from Rhonda McAfee (bio below)
I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. Yep, my parents raised me on “the Dotte” (Wyandotte County).
No, it was not crime-infested, as some people may think. I walked up and down the streets daily and never felt threatened. I was surrounded by strong black men and women who owned their own businesses and looked after their families.
In the mid-’90s, my husband and I followed God’s direction and left our hometown church to attend a predominantly white church in Johnson County, Kansas.
That change was a mammoth step for us. Of course, the choice to integrate into a white community came with its opposition, trials, and resistance. These issues arose merely because we crossed racial boundaries.
The devil desires to keep us separated. Anything worth having is never easy to get.
After roughly two years of attending church in Johnson County, we decided to sell our house and move there– in search of better schools for our kids and property that would increase in value.
Introduction to Homeschooling
When God first put homeschooling on our hearts, I was terrified. The thought of educating my children at home was foreign to me.
Before relocating to the suburbs, I had never met a single homeschooling family; once we moved, they began coming out of the woodworks!
From then on, it was evident that God was wooing us toward homeschooling our kids. Still, I struggled with getting the fearful thoughts out of my head.
Finally, I decided to trust God and jump in headfirst. Praise God! The fear immediately left.
Six years have passed since we finished homeschooling our kids, and I still can’t believe we did it. My husband, Charles, and I homeschooled our three kids from kindergarten to 12th grade. Then each child went away to college and graduated with exceptional achievements. Glory to God!
Difference 1: Rarely saw others who looked like us.
For years we attended activities and events— frequently being the only black participants and feeling unwelcome at times. I would routinely walk in and look around for faces that looked like mine.
I don’t necessarily know why I did that— maybe to find racial camaraderie or acceptance.
Eventually, as I got more comfortable in my skin and began feeling secure with my present circumstance, I stopped looking for acceptance.
I remember driving home from a basketball game one evening, and I said to my husband, Charles, “I forgot to look around to see if there were any black people at the game.”
I believe that was the day I became free. Freedom felt so good!
Once, I invited my white friend, Ann, to a Saturday morning prayer breakfast hosted by my mother’s good friend. When we walked in, I immediately noticed that Ann was the only person of “no color” there.
Naturally, everyone treated her with extreme kindness. They greeted her and loved on her from the time we walked into the door to the time we left.
Later, I asked Ann how she enjoyed the event. What she said blew me away!
Her exact words were, “I felt like they didn’t want me there.”
What!!! Can you believe that? The devil used the same tactic on her that he had used on me. That made me consider how often I’d listened to the lies of the enemy instead of paying attention to the expressed love of others toward me.
I assured her that that was not the case, and I explained how I had felt that same way.
Difference 2: Couldn’t use the same American History textbook without teaching additional facts.
The American history textbook we used was very vague concerning African American history facts. Our overall history is both misrepresented and under-represented in most history textbooks.
Downplaying the existence of slavery in America is an example of misrepresentation. The inhumane practice of slavery appears harmless in most history books.
Teaching the truth about African Americans’ presence in “this United States” played a vital role in how my children viewed themselves, their ancestors, and their heritage.
An example of under-representation in most history textbooks is the acknowledgment of the same few black historical figures (Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., etc.) as if out of an entire race of people, they’re the only heroes and heroines.
What about Amos Fortune, Ida Wells, Sojourner Truth, W.E.B. Du Bois, Rosa Parks, and hundreds more? My kids learned about these figures, as well.
Editor’s Note: See Olivia Williams’ related blog post, “4 Lessons from a Homeschooler of Color.”
Difference 3: Obligated to talk to our kids about hatred and racism.
A few months after we moved to our new home in Johnson County, we found out that some of the white men in the neighborhood had threatened to start a riot to prevent us from moving in.
But, God blocked it, and it never happened. But what if it would have happened? Had we prepared our children for something like that?
It was super important that we talk to our kids regularly about the hatred and racism that exists in this country toward blacks. (Not preparing them would have been equivalent to setting them up for failure.)
We taught them their identity in Christ Jesus and what God’s Word says about them.
We taught them not to walk in fear or see themselves as grasshoppers– as the Israelites did in Numbers 13:33. We showed them that God was faithful, and we demonstrated our dependency on Him by walking in faith.
We taught them that God is their protector, strong tower, and shield. We also taught them to walk in wisdom and to respect those in authority over them. Finally, we showed them how to forgive and not seek revenge or vindication.
Homeschooling our kids was the most rewarding experience ever!
I struggled to come up with more than the three differences I mentioned above. Believe it or not, we had more in common with our white homeschool friends than we had differences.
For instance, the reasons we chose to homeschool were similar. Many of the subjects we taught were identical. The activities and groups our kids participated in were the same.
And most of all, the fact that we loved our children and desired to give them the best education possible was our most significant commonality.
We have updated this blog post, originally published in June 2020, for timeliness and detail.
Rhonda McAfee exists because of her heavenly Father’s love. She is a retired home educator and the author of the book “Homeschooling Worked For Us”.
All three of her children have gone off to college on scholarships and have graduated.
Through speaking, writing, and coaching, Rhonda enjoys inspiring and challenging parents to be the best they can be for their kids. She is also passionate about teaching fundamental money concepts to young adults.
She and the love of her life, Charles, are getting used to being empty-nesters. For fun, they look forward to camping and cruising as often as they possibly can.
We have updated this blog post, originally published in June 2020, for timeliness and detail.
Thank you for this post. We are a multi-racial family via adoption with white parents, white kids, bi-racial kids, and black kids. I know I’m doing fine at teaching them to read and write, but it’s the social and emotional lessons that I worry about. This post helped me know that my efforts at doing the same things you did, coupled with God’s love and support, will help my kids grow in the ways they need to grow.
Anaise, thanks for reading and commenting. So glad the post encouraged you to continue doing what you’re doing. One day you’ll see the fruits of your labor. You’ll be so glad you were proactivity and that you allowed God lead you concerning teaching your children the social and emotional lessons.
I thank God that He called you to this mission for “such a time as this,” Rhonda! I love how you speak truth, righteousness, unity, and forgiveness, and give glory to our God. I highly recommend your book, as well.
Thank you, Barbara. Truth, righteousness, unity, and
forgiveness is the way to LIFE and TRUE FREEDOM.
Glory to God! Thanks for recommending my book.
This was a great article. I can totally relate being a homeschooling mom in Johnson county!
Thank you Jauwna, and thanks for commenting. We started homeschooling in 1995. It’s been 25 years. I guest things haven’t changed that much?
Thank you so much! Good stuff.
Thank you, Rhonda.
Thank you Rhonda this is a great article I pray it helps many families ! Your awesome
Bertha, Thank you. It has already helped some families. Praise our God!
Thanks for sharing your experiences and differences as a homeschooling mom/ family of color… it was very informative and eye-opening.
Thanks Natalie. Your support means a lot.
Good word! Thanks for sharing your story and the challenges you faced. It was very encouraging! I loved that you point out we are ultimately more alike than not. We spend so much time focusing on the few differences instead of celebrating common values and goals. Great reminder!
Thanks for commenting, Dylan! Our differences are LOUD and throw temper tantrums…while our similarities are very soft, still, and quite. Hopefully, that explains why we pay more attention to the differences. But, we shouldn’t.
So blessed to call you friend, and to have shared part of our homeschool journey together!
Thank you, Jackie. We have been a blessing to each other.
So much wisdom! What a great example for all of us. It would be so wonderful if more children could be schooled like this! I’m so thankful to know you and call you my friend!
Lynn, Thank you. You’re so encouraging. So, good to have you on my side.
Rhonda, You are and always have been a beautiful woman of God. Thank you for sharing your heart and journey. I appreciate you pointing out the differences, but more importantly pointing out and appreciating our commonalities and goals. Many blessings to you and your beautiful family.
Hey Courtney! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my post.
Many blessings to you and your beautiful family as well.
Thank you for this positive and helpful post. I grew up in a white nuclear family but have 17 cousins (first cousins and first cousins once removed) who joined our family via adoption, all of which, except for 2, would be considered to be biracial. That is my normal. When children needed a home, they were taken in, either through adoption or fostering (too many foster cousins to count, 2 foster sisters). But with the current social upheaval, I have felt the need to understand more of other people’s experiences. It is difficult to have meaningful conversations on social media with somebody who is angry, no matter how righteous the anger may be. And I know from the interactions I have in my diverse neighborhood (moved here a few months ago), that I could feel a strong connection to black women of my age. I just had a painful inpatient surgery, and welcomed the loving care of my same age black nurse. I wished that it had been the appropriate time to listen to her talk about who she was and her life experiences. So that is what I find in this blog…a voice that can teach me, not just about home schooling but about expanding my mind and my heart.
Karen, thanks for taking the time to share your family dynamics. Living in the middle east, causes me to assume that all families look like the families we see here. You’re welcome to walk along side of me and learn from my experiences… just as long as you will allow me to learn from you and your experiences.
I meant to say *midwest.
I was introduced to Rhonda and her children decades ago. I was a retired homeschool Mom when I met her. Now our sons are married and we have six grandchildren. I have no beautiful brown skin to brag about. Only lily white skin dotted with freckles and brown age spots. So I treasure my pretty black and brown friends and rejoice in how God made them. One of the many things I love about Rhonda is her children. Her daughters captured my heart when they were little girls. They are like a sweet memory that comes to you when you first smell wild honey suckle in the spring. They waft into your mind and heart and you know you’ve come in contact with one of God’s greatest gifts. If you haven’t met Rhonda yet, you should. She is a breath of fresh air and precious beyond words.
Sweet Linda, thanks so much for your kind words.
You were always so warm-hearted.
Thank you for pouring into my daughters.😊
Such a great read!
Thank you, Rhianna❤️
I appreciate your perspective, am inspired by your persistence to live in a world that does not accept you and encouraged by your foundation on the Word of God. I think that Christians in general have a lot to learn from people of color about being in the persecuted minority. The Bible says that we will be hated for Christ and in America we have yet to see the full picture of that.
Thanks, Kim. I don’t feel like I live in a world that doesn’t accept me. I feel blessed. What Jesus did through His death, burial and resurrection was powerful enough to free me from every bondage.
I’m a victor not a victim! ❤️
I am honestly shocked that in this day and age men would threaten to “riot” when a black family moves in. I guess I’m naiive. I’m not doubting you, (ok, maybe a little when I first read it!) But the fact that those attitudes exist, still, outside of 1960s America is extremely shocking and disappointing. So thankful you and your family remained safe with people like that nearby. How horrible.
Thanks so much for commenting, Dee.
Sad to say, that type of behavior is still happening today. It’ll take more and more people, on both sides, speaking out against it…for it to STOP.
Awareness is key.🙂
I am so glad to see Rhonda encouraging others through herr story to know that they, too, can homeschool! We have loved every bit of time we’ve spent with her family and I am glad we spent time together during our homeschooling journey!
Thank you, Susan!❤️
Love you, my friend. 🌻🤗🌻
Rhonda, your insight is inspiring and powerful. Thank you for being candid, for continually pointing your family to the Lord, the Maker of each of us, the Sovereign, the Redeemer, the Restorer, Rebuilder, your Strength and Confidence. I love you, my sweet sister!!
Thanks for commenting, Lisa. God is good all the time and faithful to us all.❤️
Thanks for this article! It was really encouraging!
Thank you for commenting, Jessica.
Are you a homeschooler?
Thank you for sharing your experiences Rhonda! You have so much wisdom to share in what you learned, endured, and taught your children.
Thank you, Krista. I endeavor to continue sharing my wisdom. It’s not always easy, but it’s very rewarding.