marianne barthélemy


Homegrown : So Our Children Grow Wings 

In a two-story house near the Church Avenue Q Stop in Flatbush, NY, a handful of four to seven-year-old black children learn about seeds and GMOs, multiplications and divisions, and have guided conversations about mass incarceration.

Konjo Isizwe is a vegan African-centered homeschool dedicated to academic excellence and African heritage and culture.

Yahoteh Kokayi, Samantha Bailey, and Ayana Partee, set out to create the homeschool a few years ago, as a response to the institutionalized discrimination of black and brown students in schools and to save their children from the educational environments they grew up in as children. The vision for the future is much larger than their living room: it is to create an African-centered school, from pre-K to senior year of high school, affordable for families with a range of income.

For Yahoteh Kokayi, black homeschooling is not a trend, it is a movement — a movement that seeks to break the school-to-prison pipeline, the low graduation rates, and the overall oppression of black and brown people.

After two years in activity, Konjo Isizwe closed its doors. It proved too costly for the parents of the homeschool, in terms of time as well as financial resources. For a year, Samantha continued to homeschool her two children (Kuon studying In the last photograph of the series) before transferring them to public school.

Traditionally, in black and white reportage photography, we have seen black and brown children living in poverty and failing out of school. By utilizing this same format, this project aims to provide a positive and nuanced representation of children of color thriving in a classroom setting. Still, at its core, the issue of segregation and discrimination in the public school system.

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