Welcome to the July 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning About Diversity
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they teach their children to embrace and respect the variety of people and cultures that surround us. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Man, I wish I was Black, then I wouldn’t have to work so hard to get to the same place.
~Random Brown University Professor in the Program of Cancer Biology (circa 2004/2005)
Talk about backlash from Affirmative Action. Sheesh. Way to go!
It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how much you have accomplished, the importance of teaching diversity is essential. More essential than going outside and exploring nature, mathematics, reading, dictation or recitation. Diversity is all around us. black/white, man/woman, gay/straight, mental disorders/physiological disorders, etc. If you have a problem with it, in this day and age, you are going to have a tough time.
I have been fretting for a few weeks – how I was going to approach this subject – being a person an African American within a rather homogeneous group of Stay at Home Mom’s. I worry about what’s going to come out of all of this. Don’t know why, but I do. Not sure if I will be able to read more than one or two.
I have decided that I’m going to approach the topic through a group of “living stories”.
My First Experience
When I was 8, I was taking the bus to a friend’s house. I was either waiting for the bus, or had just gotten off – I don’t remember that detail, but a car passed and a man held up his middle finger and yelled Nigger.
I sort of looked at him stunned. Certainly he wasn’t talking to me. I was well assimilated into American Society with the straight perfect hair and nicely pressed clothes. Actually, I wasn’t exactly sure what he said, and certainly he wasn’t talking to me. I didn’t understand then what I understand now.
This life changing experience pops into my mind now and again. I was recently thinking about it a few weeks ago – and I just felt sorry for that man. It’s so sad that the human condition seems to be one that to bring one up – you must put another one down. He must have been so sad and confused.
This happened 30 or so years ago (I refuse to date myself). He’s possibly dead by now – or just ancient. The problem is that the bigotry doesn’t die with the bigot. It lives on through the children. That is the most heart wrenching part. The innocents are taught the hate – unknowingly – through the parents.
We Are The Diversity
I was raised in Minnesota – The Scandinavian capital of the world. I lived in all white neighborhoods while growing up. I went to smith and Brown – largely white, influential campuses. I live in a largely white blue collar neighborhood and attend the LDS Church – which is largely white. You see where this is going, right?
Being an African American woman, I am the diversity that we are talking about.
Just last year (2012), my kids were playing with the family down the street. The Mother of the children was telling me how she went back home to visit family in LA. She complained that her old neighborhood was ruined. She commented that the Chinese moved in – and nobody took care of their yards – you know, like white people.
I just looked at her like she was crazy (I have a good way of doing that. It would drive my bosses crazy when I had the 9-5 job).
Just another example of a blatant lack of education. Like the man above, I felt sorry for her, but more – I felt sorry for her children. Again, the children are being taught these types of ideas.
Scary and unacceptable.
I don’t want to use my children as the model “black” children and I didn’t want to be the model black family who cuts their grass – so I consciously made the decision to not allow the children to play together anymore. I refuse to expose them to such small mindedness – even if that means they don’t have a friend.
Diversity is learning by Example
The only way to learn about diversity is through example. It’s not the school’s job to teach diversity. The schools primary job, in my opinion, is to teach kids to spit back facts on a test (to make the school look good). It’s too late if your child has not learned to accept and respect differences if they have not learned by the time they start formal schooling.
A Parent Is A Child’s First Teacher.
Children Emulate Their Parents and Look Up to them as Role Models
Children learn from their parents uncritically. How are the parents treating others. How do the parents talk about and with others? It’s our responsibility to raise worldly and respectful children.
Diversity is Not All Black and White
It happens in education, stature, economic status, gender – even in the Boy scouts – it’s all around us.
My son attended a Cub Scout Day Camp this summer. One of the boys from another den had some sort of disability. My son questioned his den leader and asked what was wrong. Our den leader responded and said that his brain wasn’t functioning.
So, of course my son runs around spouting off that the little boy’s brain isn’t functioning.
His brain wasn’t functioning? When someone’s brain is not functioning – it’s called death. You cannot have a non-functioning brain in a person who is up and moving, breathing and talking. Not only was the boy’s brain functioning, it was functioning at a superiorly high level. He was incredibly gifted. He just had some challenges that the other boys didn’t have.
I had to explain this to my son – hopefully teaching him that just because someone has challenges doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them or their bodily functions. They are still a living, breathing ,and feeling individual – who deserves the same amount of respect as anyone else.
How do I Teach My Children Diversity?
Mostly, I teach them to respect everyone by providing them a good example. I respect everyone. I talk to everyone. I respect other faiths, cultures, ideas and visions.
During Passover, we made Seder Placemats and had a Seder Meal. We studied the Passover and what all the traditions mean. You can read about our learning here. Even though we are not Jewish, I think it’s important to understand and respect the beliefs of others – even if they are not our own.
We are doing a unit in world music, where we will listen to music and do crafts from cultures around the world. Again, to learn about and respect the cultures and beliefs of others.
We have talked extensively about the standards of our church – and how not everyone follows those standards. Just because someone is having a drink, or smoking, or whatever – doesn’t make them a bad person.
I think it helps for them to see me treating everyone equally – whether or not they have the same standards, beliefs, skin color, etc. Living “Love One Another” is believing in “Love One Another”. I firmly believe it’s the best teaching method.
However, we still have to deal in this world of ours – that is not always equal.
I teach my children that they have to do more, get up earlier, stay up later and work harder. For them, laziness is not an option. It’s just the way the world is.
Adults Need Teaching Too!
The professor up above, the guy in the car – myself. We all need teaching and further learning.
My Mother bought the kids a book a 3-4 years ago that I adore. It’s called the Skin I live In. I love that they celebrate the beauty of all of us – in all of our glorious differences.
Since this is one my all time favorite books, I wanted to share a copy with one of you.
Please enter the rafflecopter below to be entered to win your own, brand new, copy of The Skin You Live In.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon July 9 with all the carnival links.)
- A gift for my daugther — Amanda, a special education teacher for students with multiple exceptionalities, discusses at My Life in a Nutshell how she will enrich her daughter’s life by educating her the amazing gifts her students will bring to the world.
- The Beauty in Our Differences — Meegs at A New Day writes about her discussions with her daughter about how accepting ourselves and those around us, with all our beautiful differences and similarities, makes the world a better place.
- Accepting Acceptance and Tolerating Tolerance — Destany at They Are All of Me examines the origins of and reasons behind present day social conformity.
- Differences — sustainablemum discusses what she feels to be the important skills for embracing diversity in her family home.
- Turning Japanese — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different shares how she teaches her kiddos about Japanese culture, and offers ideas about “semi immersion” language learning.
- Celebrating Diversity at the International House Cottages — Mommy at Playing for Peace discovers the cultures of the world with her family at local cultural festivals
- Learning About Diversity by Honoring Your Child’s Multiple Heritages — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of truly knowing your roots and heritage and how to help children honor their multiple heritages.
- People. PEOPLE! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is trying to teach her children to use language that reflects respect for others, even when their language doesn’t seem to them to be disrespectful.
- Call Me Clarice, I Don’t Care – A True Message in Diversity — Lisa at The Squishable Baby knows that learning to understand others produces empathetic children and empathetic families.
- Diversity of Families — Family can be much more then a blood relation. Jana at Jananas on why friends are so important for her little family of three.
- Diverse Thoughts Tamed by Mutual Respect — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work thinks that diversity is indispensable to our vitality, but that all of our many differences require a different sort of perspective, one led by compassion and mutual respect.
- Just Shut Up! — At Old New Legacy, Becky gives a few poignant examples in her life when listening, communication and friendship have helped her become more accepting of diversity.
- The World is our Oyster — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot is thankful for the experiences that an expat lifestyle will provide for herself as well as for her children.
- Children’s black & white views (no pun intended … kind of) — Lauren at Hobo Mama wonders how to guide her kids past a childish me vs. them view of the world without shutting down useful conversation.
- Raising White Kids in a Multicultural World — Leanna at All Done Monkey offers her two cents on how to raise white children to be self-confident, contributing members of a colorful world. Unity in diversity, anyone?
- Ramadan Star and Moon Craft — Celebrate Ramadan with this star and moon craft from Stephanie at InCultureParent, made out of recycled materials, including your kid’s art!
- Race Matters: Discussing History, Discrimination, and Prejudice with Children — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy discusses how her family deals with the discrimination against others and how she and her husband are raising children who are making a difference.
- The Difference is Me – Living as the Rainbow Generation — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is used to being the odd-one-out, but walking an alternative path with children means digging deeper, answering lots of questions and opening to more love.
- My daughter will only know same-sex marriage as normal — Doña at Nurtured Mama realizes that the recent Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage will change the way she talks to her daughter about her own past.
- Montessori-Inspired Respect for Diversity — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her multicultural family and shares Montessori-inspired ideas for encouraging respect for diversity.
- EveryDay Diversity — Ana at Panda & Ananaso makes diversity a part of everyday living, focusing on raising of compassionate and respectful child.
- Diversity as Part of Life — Even though Laura at Authentic Parenting thought she had diversity covered, she found out that some things are hard to control.
- Inequity and Privilege — Jona is unpacking questions raised by a summit addressing inequity in breastfeeding support at Life, Intertwined.
- 3 Ways to Teach Young Children About Diversity — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama recognizes her family’s place of privilege and shares how she is teaching her little ones about diversity in their suburban community.
- Teaching diversity: tales from public school — A former public high school teacher and current public school parent, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama values living in a diverse community.
- 30 Ideas to Encourage Learning about Diversity While Traveling — Traveling with kids can bring any subject alive. Dionna at Code Name: Mama has come up with a variety of ways you can incorporate diversity education into your family travels (regardless of whether you homeschool). From couch surfing to transformative reading, celebrate diversity on your next trip!
- Diversity, huh? — Jorje of Momma Jorje doesn’t do anything BIG to teach about diversity; it’s more about the little things.
- Chosen and Loved — From Laura at Pug in the Kitchen: Color doesn’t matter. Ethnicity doesn’t matter. Love matters.
- The One With The Bright Skin — Stefanie at Very Very Fine tries to recover from a graceless response to her son’s apparent prejudice.