Teaching our kids about diversity matters, they say…
When my daughter was in preschool, she asked me, “Mommy, Alexia asked me why our skin color is different. Why is my skin light brown and she, her skin is dark brown?” The question was innocent, and the kids were reaching an age where they were beginning to notice the differences among themselves.
It Was All About Curiosity
I realized I was going to have to approach the subject of diversity and how we are all unique because of the influence of our heritage, family, friends, etc.
Thankfully, I had some backup since Cultural Day at her school was just around the corner. She was thrilled about the event and it helped me and my husband navigate and figure out how to answer the question… What is diversity?
The project was a brilliant opportunity to share lively stories about my Jamaican heritage of spicy and exotic foods, junkanoo parades and colorful clothes, dance, and reggae music. As I reminisce and I see her funny reactions to things that are not her day to day normal, I realize just how much diversity is in my own home.
Realizing that all households are unique and within their walls each family is diverse helped me decide not to address skin color, but instead focus on the beauty of diversity in its entirety.
Diversity is Not Skin Deep
Music & Dance
- Do you tap your foot when you hear some calypso music?
- Do you feel the need to sway our hips when some salsa is playing?
- Do you feel a little emotional tug on hour heart strings when you hear a country song?
Even the architecture across the United States is diverse.
- How can you not be in awe of the towering building in New York City?
- Enjoy the hominess of the lush green and quietness of Seattle?
- What about the long stretches of pastures with barns and silos throughout the Midwest?
- How do you feel when you see the old European style buildings in New Orleans?
Often, we overlook diversity in food. We are so used to enjoying different style of food on our plate, we sometimes forget to appreciate the culture and the people that introduced it to us.
It’s Fun to Let Go and Enjoy Something Outside Your Normal
We all tend to gravitate towards people we are comfortable with, can relate to, challenges us, makes us laugh, and intrigues us. Some children develop a habit of making fun of kids that they perceive as different. Did you know 44% of middle school students experience various types of name calling? 36.3% being on the receiving end of hurtful rumors or lies?
I don’t want to teach my kids about color, I want to teach them about beauty. I call it Discovering Beauty…
- The languages we all speak and accents that give away where we are from.
- Embrace where the shades of our hair, skin, and eyes that draw out how we look.
- How we scream, snicker, or snort when we laugh out loud.
- Appreciate the differences in how each individual learns.
- Understand and respect our individual values and beliefs.
- Learn how differences shape how we react to strengths and weaknesses
- Why the feature of our bodies is often hidden in our heritage.
- Appreciate creatives with wild imaginations.
- Respect boundaries of those that are soft spoken and like the quiet.
- Admire the differences in our chosen hairstyles, clothes, and choice in food we eat.
The Hidden Treasure
When I wrote I Love Being Me Uniquely Me, I wanted to capture the innocence of diversity found in our children, their culture and their nationality. Thus, I penned it as a poetic message versus a story per se… where the reader becomes the character. So, none of the characters were assigned a name.
I love being me and I think you’ll agree, someone sweeter than me you’ll not find. If you search high and low, you surely will see, just one me—special, loving and kind.
Diversity and discovering the beauty of people resonated with me when I discovered: Between 1 in 3 students say they have been cyberbullied.
I wanted to create a book with a personal message that allowed the kids to become the character in the story. And to know it is okay to be themselves. I wanted both kids and adults to relate to the message and learn how to practice positive affirmation about themselves. I pictured parents across the globe reading it to their children and encouraging children to be themselves and to see the beauty in what makes us all unique.
“I am blown away. Wow. This book far surpassed my expectations. It was well-written and beautifully illustrated… but, this book went far beyond those two things for me. It made me feel accepted and heard. Even just one simple image of a boy wearing a kipa on his head made me feel my heritage was celebrated.” – Amazon reviewer
Never Underestimate the Power of a Positive Thought!
At some point, young people that are deemed different from their peers become at risk for being bullied. Playground bullies now have bigger audiences with social media.
We, as parents, need to work even harder at making sure our children are grounded and understand the beauty in what makes us different.
All children are diverse. All children come from diverse backgrounds. We are not all alike. Plant the seeds of self-love and acceptance helps all children… not just the ones being bullied.
When our children stand in self-confidence, they no longer feel the need to hurt others. Self-love and acceptance will create a firm foundation when firmly rooted in childhood.
How to practice affirmations from my book that you can say out loud with your kids:
- “Say after me, ‘There is only one me!’ Say it out loud, ‘And I love being me!’”
- “You! Yes, you! You should love being yourself too. Being you is something no one else can do.”
- “Me. Yes, me! I am the one I love to be. Love me or not I will always be me.”
Don’t Try to Fit In. Stand Out by Being you
Teaching our kids about diversity matters—they say. Yes, it does. But let us teach them to understand and see the beauty in diversity.
The author gives special thanks to Margaret Civella, her editor, who helped her out with this article.