Sumayyah’s Book Shelf #2 – Freedom Challenge


Welcome to Sumayyah’s Book Shelf, where I am Sumayyah. How are you?

Really briefly today, I just want to talk about a book that I don’t actually have on hand, but that I did read some time ago. Ah, “Freedom Challenge: African-American Homeschoolers” by Grace Llewellyn (I hope I’m saying that right). Um, I ended up giving this book 2 stars for a few reasons, but let’s start with what this book is.

What this book IS, is a collection of essays by African-American parents who have homeschooled, and it is a collection of essays by African-American children who have been homeschooled.

What this book is NOT, however, is a guidebook, a list of resources, a support system, a how-to guide.

My impression is that this collection of essays, written in the 90s, is sort of biased, you know? It’s skewed toward the middle class. There are mentions of families traveling out of the country, building sailboats, visiting professional jewelry-making studios, music lessons, computers at home. In the 90s, as an African-American, I can tell you that having a computer in the home was not a widespread thing.

Those things that I mentioned, they sound good, but they’re not really accessible for low-income, inner city families, um, maybe people out in the country. [indistinguishable] Ooh, I can’t talk today. Excuse me.

It is mentioned in the introduction that the author, Grace Llewellyn (I really hope I’m saying that right) only had contact with 20 African-American families. 20 is not a bad number, but it’s such a small, um, what’s the word I’m looking for, it’s a small group. It’s a small control, I guess, so that it doesn’t get a wide range of styles and ideas.

And it is – and, another reason why I’m disappointed with this book is that it only briefly addressed that African-Americans shy away from traditional education due to the society that is against them. Having grown up – I grew up in Detroit – having grown up in the inner city with a failing school system, had my parents had the opportunity to homeschool us, we probably would have taken it. I turned out okay, but that’s also because of supplementary lessons. You know, I got a library card when I was in kindergarten, I think, and I went to the library every week, and as you can see behind me, I still have plenty of books.

But, I would to stress that this book was written in the 1990s. I don’t know of any updated versions or new editions or anyone else that has undertaken this sort of research. Let me know if they do, because I would love to read about it and make another review.

“Freedom Challenge: African-American Homeschoolers” by Grace Llewellyn. Do I recommend it? Not really. Sorry.


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