How do you teach diversity?

We’ve never taught our children to be afraid of anyone, except for that generic category of strangers: You don’t open the door for strangers. You don’t get in the car with strangers. You don’t go anywhere with strangers, in fact. Our children’s world is sharply divided into good guys and bad guys. There is no gray. And they’re constantly asking how do you know which is which?

I grew up in a diverse downtown area that was racially divided. Where I live now in the Midwest among Scandinavians is not. Diversity, to us, is dark hair and dark eyes. Forget skin color.

So it makes me sad that the sex offender, convicted of breaking into homes and sexually assaulting victims, who moved into our neighborhood is African American. Because he is the person our children will be taught is not safe. And how do you teach them he is not safe without generalizing it, when they’re rarely exposed to other African Americans?

How do you teach your children diversity?

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20. April 2010 by Jennifer Jeanne Patterson
Categories: Parenting | Tags: , , , , , | 6 comments

Comments (6)

  1. So, do you think they will truly associate skin color to this person being bad? I have found that nowadays, children don’t really notice skin color. However, it might be helpful to be sure to point out some great African American role models. Mix the bad with the good. Just my perspective as a non-parent.

  2. I’ve been mulling over diversity lately, too. I think the best way to teach it is to model the behavior you’d like from your children. I believe if we want them to play and be outgoing with children of other races, abilities, etc., they need to see us doing the same. Take them to playgrounds/areas outside of our immediate neighborhood if it’s not diverse, talk about sexuality in general terms as it relates to other kids “Some kids have two mommies/daddies,” My mom still tells the story of how my sister burst into tears the first time she saw an African American man. I think that’s sad. In addition to the places we go, I also try to pay attention to the shows they watch, books they read and activities they play. To me it’s not just a black or white issue, it’s about living in a global culture and teaching that diversity is normal and to be celebrated. :)

  3. I found your blog on someone else’s list and this post makes me so happy. I can’t believe how much hatred is out there. The public comments on newspaper websites are the worst. You’d think no white person ever committed a crime. Maybe you could find some books that have African American characters and nonfiction books depicting African American contributions to culture. You could show them your class pictures/year books and tell them happy memories about various classmates of different races. My kids are 13 and 14. I still show them news stories about hate crimes, disrespect, etc. so they can think about the impact.

  4. You know, you don’t have to do a thing. Just watch them grow up and help them along the way. The day my 6 year old daughter said ‘No one wants me to be their princess in class, is it because I am brown?’ – a piece of me died that day. Saying that, most of her friends are white! I say, take it as it comes. A lot of times we try to over-educate our kids and end up confusing them. When the time comes for a lesson to be taught, you tell them how it is. That we’re no different. That the colour of blood running in our veins is the same shade of red. That when we cry, our tears all run clear, and when we smile, we light up the world. You’ll have the words……yes, you will

  5. It is vitally important to us that our kids grow up to be responsible, good people. I’m not leaving anything to chance. I am determined not to raise a criminal, a cheat, a vandal, a bigot, a bully..the list is way too long. Your kids will not be confused if you clearly and consistently point out right from wrong and love from hate at a young age. I wish as many people cared as much as you.

  6. Pingback: Unplanned Cooking » Lovin’ My Bubble, Not our New Neighbor

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