Talking about diversity

Are you ready to talk to your kids about diversity? I didn’t think it was going to happen at only 3 1/2 years old but it did. If you follow me on Instagram (please do! @nuggetlands), you probably saw my InstaStories about an unexpected talk I had with Big Nugget.

The conversation

At lunch last week, we were eating our burgers at Habit and people watching. Out of nowhere she tells me “Mom we have the right skin color. Ours is the normal one and the right one.”

😮 I nearly choked on my burger. 

I asked her what made her think that? And she said it was something that she decided. I asked her then what about Ms Tika and Ms Missy (her school teachers who are African American and Latina) and she said their skin was ok and that she loved them.

We kept talking about it and I was trying to probe her more on where she heard something like this but she just kept saying “I decided that myself”.

Meanwhile, all that is going through my head is that racism is learned….who is teaching my child these things? FREAKING OUT. We chose her preschool because it was so diverse. We don’t talk that way and I’d like to think that our actions and words show her acceptance and empathy.

The Diversity Lesson

She now understands that no one has the right skin color and that everyone has different skin colors and hair colors and eye colors and each and every one is perfect for that person. Just like the rainbow, the more colors that we have around us, the more beautiful it is. She loves rainbows so I think that really resonated with her. I said God made everyone perfect and different and that it’s ok. She asked about Jesus and what color he was and I said that he had dark skin like Ms Tika.

She started to lose interest in our conversation at this point because, well, she’s 3 but I wanted to drive home the most important point to her, that saying something like that is not only untrue but hurtful.

I know this is just the beginning of educating her and making sure she is accepting and inclusive but HOLY HELL. I was blindsided.

Talking to teachers

That next day, I spoke with her preschool teacher about our conversation. At first I had some doubts that I should bring it up. I didn’t want her to think that we were horrible parents and some sort of racists. She was very thankful that I told her about it and said that she hadn’t heard anyone of the kids saying anything like that but that she would be a little more vigilant in what she overhears. She gave us a book to read over the weekend and she said that she would incorporate it into class next week as well.

Let’s face it, having these conversations, both with our children and their educators, are more important than ever. It can be awkward or uncomfortable but not talking about it just makes it worse. I saw both of those conversations as opportunities to learn and grow, not just for my daughter but also, for me.

Resources

This is a great article for parents on how to talk about diversity.

I ordered a handful of books from Amazon for us to read at home. Karen Katz is one of my favorite children’s book authors, I was really excited when I saw she had this book.

I found this YouTube video about this book and decided to order it.

Finally, a classic book with a great message.

 

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2 thoughts on “Talking about diversity

  1. Honestly, kids notice that people are different races and where they see people of different races at that age. They’re surprisingly observant! Because our society has inherently racist issues and is not diverse everywhere, they end up drawing their own false conclusions unless we actively work to teach them otherwise. According to the research, even if kids don’t actually say things like your kid did, they’re thinking them unless you take specific action. We do talk about that sort of thing and my four-year-old still said something radically inappropriate.

    Fortunately, it sounds like you addressed the issue head-on. That PBS article is a great guide to talking about it.

    1. They are SO observant!!! Thankfully I think what we did worked because it’s come up a lot of times since then – except it’s her reinforcing the lessons she’s learned about diversity in a positive way. (And I love love love your URL!!!)

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