As I sit here and continue to see news release after news release of the Charlottesville attack, I continue to feel saddened. I am fearful for the world that my two girls are growing up in. I am scared for our future. How can we live in a world with so much hate? I mean, Fox News reported that this hate crime killed 1 person and injured 19 people…
So, instead of feeling helpless and doing nothing about it, I put my thinking cap on. What can I do? I understand I am just one person. However, as parents we have an extremely powerful opportunity- instilling knowledge in our children. We are literally SHAPING OUR FUTURE! No one is born to hate or be intolerant; racism is a learned behavior. So, what can we do as a community? As parents, we can TEACH our children about multicultural awareness. We can teach them how AWESOME it is to have so much diversity surrounding us. How boring would it be if we were all exactly the same? I love learning about new perspectives. That is what helps us grow as a human race. So, we need to ensure that younger generations also have that perspective.
Below, I have provided suggestions and activities on teaching and discussing the acceptance of diversity.
Immerse Yourself in a Culture
Wouldn’t it be cool if we could actually jet set once a week to a new location for the sake of multicultural awareness? Ahh- that would be the dream! But, that is just not reasonable; especially if you have kids, LOL. But, there is still a way to educate your child on different cultures from the comfort of your own home. One suggestion, once a week, implement a multicultural night!
Plan a day where you have a theme based on a specific country. Lets say you are teaching your child about Japan. For that evening, you may cook or call for takeout from a Japanese restaurant. You may teach your child about how they write (one example is hiragana) and see if they could write a simple phrase in Japanese. For older children, challenge them by asking him/her to create the characters . You could also hit up Pinterest and create a fun craft! Lastly, explore Japanese entertainment. What child wouldn’t like watching a little Japanese Anime on the iPad?
My point, many people have a little more tolerance for a specific demographic when they know more about their culture. By immersing yourself and learning more, naturally you are more interested and have more appreciation if you understand WHY they do some of their practices. Not to mention, it can be a fun way to spend family time together :).
Provide a Multicultural Play Experience
When you go to the toy store, try finding dolls and action figures of different ethnicities. Not only will this further your cultural discussions with your child, this will further expand your child’s multicultural acceptance.
There was one time we were at the store buying a baby doll for my child and she chose an African American baby. She was SO EXCITED about her new doll and could not wait to bring her home. When we checked out, the cashier point blank said, “You know we have different colored dolls, right?”- Um, excuse me? I was shocked at her closed mindedness. This further reiterates my point that we NEED to address this topic early and that diversity should be celebrated!
What is Diversity? Apple Activity
This is an oldie but a goodie. One fun activity to do with your child is to find a red apple, a green apple and a yellow apple. Let your child explore them and discuss the differences. Have your child draw the apples , color them, discuss the colors that they see. After you have exhausted the discussion of the outside characteristics, have a parent or caregiver cut each of the apples in half. Without showing your child the OUTSIDE of the apple, ask if they can tell the color of the apple by looking at the INSIDE only. Chances are, they won’t be able to.
This will be a great discussion starter on the celebration of diversity. Although we may all look different on the outside, we all look the same on the inside. We should be accepting of the variety of colors that are seen in our environment but know, we are all the same at the end of the day. As a human race (regardless if you are white, black, purple, gold- color doesn’t matter), we all have families, we all want love, we all want to be LOVED, we all want something to hope for!
You can do this same concept with eggs too. Find one brown egg and one white egg.
Read Picture Books on Diversity
I am always a huge advocate for reading picture books to continue conversations on the acceptance of diversity and multicultural awareness. For young children, this provides context on an pretty heavy concept. I have provided a list of my favorite books on this topic!
- Whoever You Are – By Mem Fox
- Two Eggs, Please – By Sarah Weeks & Betsy Lewin (This would be a great supporting book to read if you do the ‘Apple Activity’ above. It provides a narrative on that concept.)
- It’s Okay to Be Different – By Todd Parr
- Say Hello – By Rachel Isadora (This would be a great supporting book if you are doing the ‘Immersion Activity’ listed above as it discusses different ways to say hello in different languages.).
Nothing is going to get better over night. But nothing will EVER get better if we don’t try! I am afraid the attackers of Charlottesville can’t be helped BUT, we can hopefully help our younger generations from going down a similar path if we educate them on diversity.
My thoughts are with those affected by the attacks in Charlottesville. Let’s come together and make a difference. Love and peace!
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” -The Lorax