Diversity: the condition of having, or being composed of, differing elements; the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.
I’m sure that some people hear the word diversity and roll their eyes while thinking: “Here we go with this topic.” Why does the word diversity make some folks uncomfortable? When you read the definition above, it doesn’t sound like a “bad word” or a topic that you wouldn’t want to discuss. However, there are still many who do not have discussions about diversity.
Being “color blind” is a term some use to explain that they are not prejudiced or racist. We should celebrate the reality that we are all different. People are comprised of lighter skin, white skin, brown skin, dark brown skin, and black skin. Some people have different hair, eyes, and may wear different styles of clothes and eat different types of foods.
Teaching children about diversity is extremely necessary and important. Children are curious about diversity. Small children do not judge the other kids they play with based on skin color unless someone has taught them to do so. Children may ask you why their friend is a different color than them, they are asking out of curiosity. When that question is asked most parents tend to give the stock answer: “We’re all different” and move on.
Teaching children about diversity and learning to celebrate diversity is a necessary thing to do.
Here are a few things you can do to get the discussion going with your children:
(Some of these things may not be able to be done until the current COVID-19 situation improves)
When your child asks a question about a person’s skin tone or culture, take time to answer them. Let your child know that you are glad they are asking questions. Explain to them in simple terms why people are different colors or why some people wear certain clothing.
When events are going on in your area that celebrate other cultures, take your children to these events. Enjoy the food, dancing, language, and education about a different culture.
Visit museums with your child. If you live in an area that’s not very diverse, try to take day trips to nearby cities and/or museums. Make diversity fun to learn about. Celebrating others should not be a chore. When your child asks a question about a different race or culture that you cannot confidently answer, be honest. Let them know that you do not know, but you will look it up and find out for them. These days we have so many resources available to us online that can help us have the talk about diversity.
You can even start a group in your area where families and those in the community can come together and work on starting a group that centers arounds diversity. If we want to see change in our world it will require us getting out of our comfort zones and doing some work. You will find that there are more people who would love to come along in this journey, many times folks just need someone to be the one to hit the start button.
Diversity is good. Inclusion is good. Our world is filled with many different cultures, races, religions, etc. Let’s celebrate diversity and be willing to learn about those who are different than us. Please do not worry about getting everything right, the important thing is to start having the conversations and being willing to learn.
I’d love to hear how you’re having conversations about diversity with your children.