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.