Let’s be honest: in some homeschool communities, particularly in the Midwest, it can be hard to find families of color.
If you are a homeschooler of color, you might find it awkward to constantly stand out, whether you’re flipping through history curriculums featuring very few people of color or caught in racial discussion in a co-op class.
As an African-American homeschooler, I used to struggle with being the only black girl in co-op classes or at homeschool meet-ups. But I’ve since learned to embrace how God made me–our differences are beautiful and amazing!
So here are four lessons I’ve learned as a homeschooler of color.
Lesson 1: Embrace your identity.
Embrace your culture, race, heritage, and/or nationality. These are parts of your identity; they don’t define you, but they are part of who you are and who God created you to be.
Embracing your identity can manifest in several forms. Maybe you try picking up your family’s language, wearing traditional clothes to a special event, or intentionally talking with people within your culture.
For me, embracing and celebrating my blackness meant accepting my natural hair, reading up on black history, and enjoying black pop culture. But this all starts with a personal choice to claim your racial background as your own. Embracing your identity can be the first step on the road to thriving as a homeschooler of color.
Lesson 2: Educate yourself.
It’ll be tough to fully embrace your racial identity if you know little to nothing about it. That’s why I encourage you to educate yourself on your background.
And the beauty of homeschooling is that you can convert this interest into school credit. Find courses focused on your culture/history, or even create your own course (“History of East Asia”, “Latin American Literature”, etc.).
Not only is this beneficial to you, but creating your own rigorous course can be an impressive addition to your portfolio! I even plan to further my knowledge by taking a second college major in African American Studies.
You don’t have to go that deep to educate yourself–I just suggest learning about your history and culture. You could even try a field trip (see 20 field trip destinations in Kansas City, including the American Jazz Museum!). You never know how that knowledge could help prepare you for your future.
Lesson 3: Educate others.
After learning about your own culture, feel free to share it with others. It may break down some awkward barriers.
Once I started learning about black history, I could discuss racial topics with my non-black friends with more confidence and understanding. I discovered that often people did not know the history behind some topics, prompting them to respect my viewpoints, even if they still disagreed.
So once you know more about your background, use your knowledge to start healthy dialogue with those who are different from you.
Lesson 4: Engage with your community.
Find members of your racial community and connect with them. Befriend other teens, elders, or mentors who share your racial background.
This doesn’t mean avoiding others of a different race or socializing exclusively with people of the same race as you. This means intentionally seeking bonds with people who already understand and have experienced your culture and history.
Some of the ways I engage with the black community include supporting black-owned businesses, selecting black female mentors, and connecting with fellow black writers/artists. You could attend a cultural celebration or volunteer at an organization geared towards your racial background. Find a way to foster relationships with those who share your culture and origins.
After learning–and enacting–these four lessons, I’ve grown to love and be proud of my racial identity. I hope you can too!
How do you learn more about culture and history? Let us know in the comments!
We have updated this blog post, originally published in 2018, for timeliness and detail.