Intentionally Embracing Diversity
Here is a collection of articles and the gist of what I gleaned from reading them:
Bottom line: your children will model after you!! If you reflect appreciation for diversity, your children will learn to value it, too. This is hard work; you have to be very, very self-aware, constantly examining your own attitudes and actions to see where they are coming from. See the next paragraph!!
Examine your own assumptions. Are you inadvertently teaching your child that your culture is best? This is common for people of European descent. We don’t realize how often we operate from a presumption that our way of doing things is the standard. Do you see what I just did? I unthinkingly wrote this question with the assumption that all of us are of European descent, and that whomever participates in this discussion is of European descent. Aaack!!
When you go to the library, intentionally find books about people that are different from your family.
Participate in cultural events that are different from your own family’s culture.
Voice your opinions and thoughts about the benefits of diversity. We are richer culturally when all perspectives are included.
Focus on commonalities that children can relate to: everyone eats, everyone wears something on their body and head, everyone bathes, everyone has a family, everyone feels emotions, etc. We are all human.
How to Teach Children About Cultural Awareness and Diversity
By Christy Tirrell-Corbin
This article has some profoundly simple ideas and specific strategies for embracing diversity in your life, which amounts to modeling, one of the most effective ways to teach children.
Teaching Diversity: A Place to Begin
By Janet Gonzalez-Mena, Dora Pulido-Tobiassen
This article is geared toward teachers, but it suggests taking a philosophical stance of open-mindedness, inquiry, and critical thinking that are valuable for anyone. Between the lines, it asks you to examine your own assumptions.
Teaching Diversity in the Classroom & Home
This is short and sweet, and offers a few tips about instilling appreciation for diversity in your child.
7 Ways to Teach Your Child About Diversity
by Life as Mama
Written by a parent married to someone from a culture different than her own. She speaks from her own experience.
We are different, we are the same: Teaching young children about diversity
This article offers some activities to help children explore diversity. Be careful not to cast people from other cultures as exotic, though, and also watch out for cultural appropriation if you are using objects or clothing from other cultures.
Teaching Young Children About Bias, Diversity, and Social Justice
This article suggests using “young children's understanding of differences to teach social justice through age-appropriate literature, news stories, anti-bias lessons, familiar examples, and problem solving.” It makes the point that children are very concerned with fairness, which makes for a good platform for conversations about diversity.
How to Show Young Children that Diversity is a Strength
Another one written for teachers but certainly applicable to family life. Great ideas about embracing diversity in your daily life, as a matter of course. Make it a way of life.
Teaching Kids to Embrace Diversity
This article provides a philosophical framework for thinking about diversity.
5 Ways to Teach Kids About Diversity in Non-Diverse Areas
This article is especially apropos, considering how white Bellingham and Whatcom County are. It is even more important to intentionally teach children about diversity when they have little exposure in their daily lives.
On the importance of role modeling, and making diversity awareness and appreciation part of daily life, rather than something exotic.
The Ultimate Guide to Embracing Diversity with Small Children
This article includes clips from cartoons from other cultures, including one from Russia and one from India. I did not watch them all, so don’t consider them vetted!
The World’s Family
A very cute video for children about how people are alike and different around the world.
I googled “Ted Talks on embracing Diversity” and I did not have time to watch them all! Here’s the link, or you can google yourself:
Introduction and Notes from the 3/28/19 Parenting in Community class discussion on Intentionally Embracing Differences
Be forewarned, it is political. The introduction is followed by my discussion notes:
“Googling this topic produced a long list of articles that suggest that parents need only read books to their children about different kinds of people, attend some cultural events, or maybe learn to cook a few dishes from another culture.
That is a deceptively simple approach, for two reasons that came to my mind as I reflected on this topic.
While there might not be anything wrong with those ideas, if that is all you do you risk “exoticizing” people from other cultures rather than instilling a deep appreciation for the many different ways that humans live their lives and express themselves. You might miss the boat, which is cultivating the belief that there are other ways of doing things, which are just as valid as yours. It is a deep, deep attitude or philosophy.
But it is even more complex than that. Truly embracing diversity is a political thing. It requires constant scrutiny of yourself, your biases, your premises about the world, your attitudes based on your assumptions, etc. I believe that it necessitates investigation to raise your own awareness of how American culture, politics, education, justice, and other aspects of our society, systematically marginalize people who are not white, not male, and not heterosexual, among other things. Our systems are designed by and for a very narrowly defined kind of person who possesses certain “acceptable” characteristics.
If you keep these things in mind as you move through your world, you might begin to notice how certain kinds of people are explicitly and implicitly marginalized. I believe teaching children to embrace diversity means calling attention to both the explicit and implicit injustices that keep people in their “place.” This is very, very challenging if you are of the mainstream culture that benefits from our systems. It means reading between the lines, and questioning what you think you know (your assumptions). It means looking for things that will be difficult to see.
Embracing diversity means noticing injustices, taking action, and working toward fairness in our society, which means social justice. Otherwise, it is only a superficial catch phrase. Young children highly value fairness, so this is a way to frame issue of social justice that resonates with them
To bring this political “essay” back to the ground, I turned it into questions about what children will learn from you about diversity, social justice, and fairness, depending on your behavior, or what you model for them:
What will your children learn if they see you advocating for marginalized people, and hear you talking about the daily injustices many people face? What if they hear you questioning why our system favors a certain kind of person, and why that favoritism is invisible to those it favors?
What will they learn if you do not do these things? What if you only engaged in a few multicultural activities?”
After my introduction, we kept those political things in mind as we raised questions about teaching our children, and shared what we already do or could do to intentionally model embracing diversity.
How/why do children learn to judge others based on their appearance?
How can we pass on our own values, yet impart that we want out children to come to their own conclusions?
Power and money maintain the status quo.
How can we get past superficial multiculturalism when our community lacks diversity?
Gender programming starts early. Roles?
Feminization of boys. Is it ok to be an exuberant boy these days?
How to talk about diversity if child doesn’t seem to notice differences. Is it ok to call attention to them?
How to mitigate sexist, racist, discriminatory comments?
How to start conversations when you disagree, esp. with a family member.
We can model
Use descriptors other than those having to do with appearance, such as persistent, creative, thoughtful, etc. Describe a person’s character or their skills, instead.
Take a stance of inquiry. Model curiosity and ask questions!
Expose children to different groups (i.e. political, cultural)
Provide toys of various kinds, regardless of gender or ethnicity or race. But be careful not to engage in cultural appropriation. (that is another essay!).
Acknowledge your own “baggage.”
We can be in relationships with people who are different than us or have different beliefs and values.