by Salima K. Ellis
I am a community parent of five children. I don’t like the term single parent because it implies that I have been parenting alone. It takes a village and I have a very supportive village. I have three sons, ages 28, 20 and 19, and two daughters, ages 14 and 3. They are the reason that I started homeschooling.
Indigenous peoples have fought colonialism for centuries. Our people were murdered for something as important as learning to read, write and question. Sixty-four years ago there was Brown vs. Board of Education, a legal victory which was supposed to ensure quality education and facilities for African-American children. Yet our people are still fighting for these rights 64 years later. (Actually this fight is hundreds of years old.) This fight is happening across the country — New York, Baltimore, Benton Harbor, Highland Park, Detroit, New Orleans, and Texas. Our legislatures continue to underfund and undervalue our communities.
I homeschool because I see something so many families recognize — that the principles and practice of equality, sustainability, prosperity, control, and respect begin at home with an education that nurtures our students towards higher-level thinking and innovation.
As a recipient of a public school education, and a parent of intergenerational children, I have witnessed the decline of effort by the public school system to properly educate indigenous students. Two of my children dropped out of school by the time they reached middle school. I did not have the knowledge or the skills to effectively help them. Then it occurred to me that I had to re-educate myself and teach my students to exceed expectations. I began to consume the knowledge that would help me become a better teacher, for it’s not enough to just take your student out of public schools to homeschool. You have to have a curriculum that questions, surpasses and defies colonialism. Online schools are not necessarily an option, as they still teach the same educational dogma.
I read The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson, The Dumbing Down of America by Charlotte Iserbyt and The Browder Files by Anthony T. Browder. I also read a letter from King Leopold II to his missionaries working in Africa, Robert Greenleaf’s The Servant as Leader, and James Allen’s As a Woman Thinketh, just to name a few. I began to study law. This knowledge helped me to understand that the education of my progeny is my responsibility and no one else’s.
Parents must think outside the box and veer away from the 8 hours-a-day, 40 hours-a-week mantra. That form of education is only used to create employees, not free-thinking, creative and intelligent beings. For example, through the study of agriculture my students receive lessons in natural science, math and nutrition. My curriculum also includes etiquette. Parents can learn how to construct their own creative curricular plans.
I have also learned that my community is a great asset. Your community provides resources that are vital to educating your student. As a homeschooling parent, I have created a local resources guide for myself and other parents. D-Town Farm is one of my favorites, with activities such as BioBlitz and the Harvest Festival, which are geared toward educating our youth about agriculture, food justice and the ecosystem. D-Town Farm is directed by Malik Yakini, who is a vital figure in our city and a visionary in advancing human rights for our people.
Another resource is Detroit Independent Freedom Schools (DIFS), which is conducted by community volunteers who offer free, African-centered, inspiring learning experiences for our children. This program helps me to provide activities and studies that I could not otherwise afford, such as lessons in 3D printing, drone technology and quality field trips in and around the city. They also provide tutoring in math and literacy.
The Detroit Public Libraries always have something for our youth. They have a program called Project Art that helps my students thrive artistically. My daughter has learned coding and 3D printing also. Last but not least, my school, Universal Mind Freedom School, hosts an American Sign Language class at the Detroit Main Library every Wednesday, 12:00 p.m. — 2:00 p.m. Ms. Janae Hart is our instructor. Talk about wonderful local resources! Parents, don’t be afraid to reach out to other homeschoolers.
What do other nations have that we do not? Control and foresight. Other nations have control over their industries, agriculture, education, housing, health care, technologies and entertainment. This gives them the ability to control their economies. The vision is that by giving our youth an education based on the fundamentals which I have previously mentioned, they will become leaders of their own industries — which will shift our people from consumers to producers who are innovators of sustainable living and governance. I find that we are the only people who practice integration, inclusion and diversity to our detriment. These words are propaganda. They keep our people in revolution instead of evolution. We must stop allowing others to set the standard of education for our youth. The evolution will not be televised.
Salima is a native Detroiter and a volunteer for Detroit Independent Freedom Schools. She is a certified first responder. She is currently working on a joint project as an herbalist with Exhalation Intergrative Wellness and D-town Farms, teaching youth how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The name of her school is Universal Mind School of Evolution. For more information about the homeschoolers resource guide, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.