When I was growing up there were three things in life I had accepted I would never escape from, chores, puberty, and school. Now while chores and puberty had their upsides, having a clean house and maturing, school was nothing but pure torment. From my first year of Kindergarten all the way to middle school I felt nothing but contempt and loathing for the system and buildings which held my youth hostage for so long. I never felt cared for by my teachers, I never felt accepted or even liked by my peers, all the enlightenment I did experience from the schools bleached and sanitized curriculum was short lived and was not even close to making up for the dreadful experience I had overall.
Being a young Latina woman didn’t improve my time spent there either. I was harassed by teachers for my developing breasts and was told to pull my shirt up because I was distracting the boys, I was told to go the the counselors office and was forced to learn a humiliating “Technique” to keep my shirt pulled up a certain amount as to not show any cleavage. I was asked on my first day of middle school if “I was one of the good Mexicans?” and told my second year to “Go back to my country!”. I was chased through the hallways by boys asking me what my bra size was and once had boys yelling “Andale, Andale, Arriba, Arriba!” at me when I told my teacher that Speedy Gonzales and that little chant he did were racist and offensive.
By eighth grade I was on my last leg and had fully accepted the fact that school didn’t like me and I didn’t like school. I had tried every year to do my best, starting out every year with straight A’s through the first trimester, even being accepted into advanced reading classes and groups. But the longer I stayed in school the more the wretched reality of what I was taking part in set in. I was trapped, I was unhappy, and I was really really tired. I spent every morning thinking about various ways of getting out of going to school, forcing myself to vomit, running away, locking myself in my room. I never tried any of them but they became more and more tempting and each school day passed.
Homeschooling had crossed my mind various times but I never really thought it was a valid option. My parents seemed too busy to spend any time teaching me things like math and science and school had become such an ingrained part of my life that life without it seem almost unimaginable. I had asked my parents multiple times but I was always told the obvious “We don’t have the time to teach you all day.” I always learned more about myself and my culture when I was spending time with my family and I couldn’t help but wish my parents would homeschool me someday so I could escape the prison known as the educational system. Finally after some exceptionally negative events at my school my mother decided she didn’t want me to be subjected to their torture anymore and decided to homeschool me halfway through eighth grade.
It’s been two and a half years off bliss since then and I have no regrets! No more sexual harassment , no more offensive racist comments, and no more alienation or public scrutiny from my peers. I can read all I want about anything I want, I can learn about my culture and feel proud without people making me feel like I’m a joke, and I can spend time with my family learning about them and their life experiences. I can make friends that are in their 30’s or hang out with kids 5 years younger than me instead of being sectioned off to hang with kids my age. What’s more I can learn at my own pace and I don’t have to fight for attention from my teachers anymore, in fact now I have two teachers ready and waiting to answer questions and educate me. Homeschooling me was the best decision my parents ever made and I thank the Virgin of Guadalupe every day for giving me the opportunity to learn and appreciate my culture instead of being force fed a eurocentric curriculum in school.
Lizzy is a 16 year old Afro-Latina teenager who is home-schooled. She is an artist, singer, and a social and racial justice advocate working in the Midwest to expose racial inequality.