1. Start with things, not peopleIn number 9, be considerate of other people's feelings, the author continues the story she uses to introduce this piece; she mentioned that her son stared and pointed at a woman wearing a burka and she was at a loss at how to deal with it. Should she answer his question right then, "completely objectifying the woman," or she could pretend he was pointing at the emus and ignore it? She chose to invite her son to ask the woman why she was dressed the way she was.
Rather than jumping right into skin color or religion, try introducing the concept of difference to very small children through objects. Maureen Costello, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program, explains that it can be as simple as showing children a bunch of balloons and discussing how they are different colors, but they are all balloons. . . .
2. Remember that recognizing difference does not equal discrimination
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3. Use language children can handle
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4. Bring other cultures into your children’s lives
You can use books, toys, and electronic media to introduce different languages and cultures. . . .
5. Avoid censorship
This is what I call the “Little House on the Prairie Dilemma.” You’re reading Little House to your kid when suddenly Ma Ingalls tells Laura she is as brown as a savage. Do you read that sentence or do you leave out Ma’s racist comment? Costello cautions against censorship. . . .
6. Talk about diversity before the topic comes up
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7. Use the situations that arise
Don’t shy away from answering your child honestly when she asks about a person’s accent or clothing. “Children are naturally curious about things that are different to them,” Gay explains. . . .
8. Be natural
“Treat differences as natural,” Nieto advises. [Don't make] a big production of talking about diversity. . . .
9. Be considerate of other people’s feelings
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10. Bring different cultures into your life
“Become more of a multicultural person,” Nieto advises. “You need to enact it in some way” if you want your children to value diversity. . . .
What do you think of this approach? Isn't this a version of what we sometimes complain about, strangers approaching us to ask personal questions? Making us and our kids feel like a living experiment in diversity? Being just another stop on the "diversity fieldtrip?"
The expert advice given in the article was this:
“I do think that most adults would prefer to be asked than to have someone just staring at them,” says Nieto [author of Affirming Diversity]. “But it doesn’t always work out. You have to use your judgment.” She adds that adults should demonstrate “respect and humility and broach the issue in a respectful way.”The article's author says it was a good choice for them to ask the woman about why she was wearing the burka: "Fortunately, the woman at the zoo was cool. She simply told him, 'I dress like this because I am a Muslim.'”
What have you done in similar situations? How do you approach it when your child points out something "different" about a stranger?