If the events of the last few weeks – including the senseless death of George Floyd and the subsequent worldwide protests – have taught us anything, it’s that many of us have a long way to go when it comes to making sense of our own approach to diversity.
The #BlackLivesMatter campaign has shone a very harsh and much-needed spotlight onto subconscious prejudices, and many people have had to take a long and hard look in the mirror to figure out how we can know better, and do better.
So, to ensure that we give our future adult generations the best start, how can we help our children to take a more inclusive approach to race and diversity? How can we teach them to be actively anti-racist, and to celebrate our differences as humans rather than let them divide us? Here are some ideas to get started…
Before we step out and examine how we can instil inclusivity into our children’s hearts, we need to educate ourselves first. There are several books to help (mainly white!) people to do this… Here are two to get you started…
Me and My White Supremacy (Layla Saad) takes a look at how white people can recognise and challenge white supremacy – something that many well-intentioned white people cannot always see or recognise. It’s a great place to start if you want to find out how you can change your hearts and minds to ultimately take action within your own life.
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race (Reni Eddo-Lodge) delves deeply into British history to find out where racial prejudice comes from, and how these inequalities are deeply interwoven into the fabric of society, This book will really give you a metaphorical shoulder-shake, and will help anyone who’s passionate about living in a fairer, more equal world to see how it can be achieved. It’s an uncomfortable read in many places, but being propelled out of our comfort zone is very necessary.
Buy diverse toys
When was the last time you did an inventory of your children’s toy box to find out how diverse it was? Probably never! If you want to make a change, a great way to start is by ensuring the toys you buy your children offer a diverse view of society. Dolls and action figures are an easy place to start – if your toy box is full of white baby dolls and blonde Barbies, maybe it’s time to introduce some diversity.
The same goes for watching TV. CBeebies does a great job of being inclusive, ensuring that it represents many races, cultures, colours, genders and more on a daily basis, and Disney has started to be slightly more representative when it comes to their much-adored princesses – but a quick look through your DVD collection or Netflix line up will show you where you can do better and ensure that your children are seeing and celebrating many different races and cultures.
Read diverse books and learn about different role models
Reading books about diversity and inclusivity is a great way to really start children off on the best foot when it comes to welcoming and celebrating people of different races, cultures and colours. Although small children rarely see colour as a differentiator, it’s great to teach them that it’s OK to be different – and that, even though we may have different skin colours, different hair or different customs, there are many, many more things that bring us together as one incredible humanity.
There are some great books available, so make sure you get hold of a few from Amazon, your local book shop, or from the library, and make a point to add them to your bedtime reading repertoire. Here are three good ones to kick you off…
It’s OK to be Different by Sharon Purtill is a lovely children’s picture book that celebrates diversity and champions kindness.
Happy in our skin by Fran Manushkin is another great book that looks at the things that make us unique, the things that make us different and the things that hold us together.
The Little Feminist Board Book set is a beautiful celebration of some incredible women throughout history, including Rosa Parks, Indira Gandhi and Frida Khalo.
Attend cultural festivals and exhibits
If you are lucky enough to live near or in a city that celebrates different cultural festivals, take your kids along and use these incredible moments as talking points, to explain why different cultures or religions celebrate in these ways. Festivals are joyful and colourful reflections of culture and humanity, and you’ll make some interesting family memories too.
Additionally, if you live near any museums or galleries that regularly put on exhibitions celebrating cultural arts, crafts or installations, take the family and learn about the incredible histories and customs that make our world such a unique place.
Talk to children about racism
Much as it’s a great thing to be inclusive and celebrate our differences, we need to actively teach our children to be anti-racist. Talk to your children about history, showing them how past – and present – generations have created an unequal society where the colour of our skin affects how people view us and treat us.
Children are naturally adept at noticing injustice, and they are not born with prejudice. Let’s harness what is within them, and teach our children to be part of a new movement of people who want to change and challenge racist views – and if that means teaching them to call out and identify racism if and when they see it, that can only be a good thing.
Learn new languages and put them to use!
Just under two thirds of Brits cannot speak a second language, but exposing our children to new languages opens up their world views and helps them to see themselves as equal, global citizens.
Children are incredibly adept at learning languages, and there are plenty of apps to help. New platform DuoLingo uses games to teach users new languages – and there’s a huge list to choose from that includes Spanish, Polish, Japanese, Turkish and Arabic.
Mark Twain said that travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, so don’t stick with your own little corner of the world, get out there and show children how incredible our planet is – and how its diversity is something to celebrate.
The Buump Active team believes that as we know better, we do better, and we would love to hear your thoughts on the above and your ideas for helping children to celebrate diversity and have an inclusive and equal view of society – as well as being anti-racist and standing up for others. Please do send us your thoughts…