You may have been watching recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, with sadness for the young man who was shot and his family, but also with a sense of detachment, because you may feel these event don't really have much to do with you personally.
You may even feel a bit smug, thinking that this sort of stuff just doesn't happen in your town or your country.
And you're totally wrong.
While your town or country may not have police shootings of young black men, racism is a problem that exists worldwide. Yes, we are very slowly moving in the right direction from where we were twenty years ago, but don't kid yourself—racism has not been eradicated.
Even if you are skeptical about the Ferguson police officer's racial motivation or firmly believe he shot only in self-defence, there is a very large group of people who do feel the shooting was racially motivated, so until everyone feels safe, heard, and valued as a part of society, racism is still a problem.
That's why we need to keep talking about racism and keep moving towards a more widespread appreciation of diversity.
Here are five things YOU can do to work towards embracing diversity with your family:
This may seem really obvious, but it's amazing how many people don't consider themselves "racist" yet still use words, phrases, or make comments that reflect negative attitudes towards diversity.
Make sure they understand what equality means. Discuss what happened in Ferguson with children who are old enough, as well as other stories in the media that have racial issues involved. Fear and ignorance can breed racism, so work together to expand your family's awareness and understanding of other races or cultures in the world.
While it is sometimes difficult to find these items, they do exist. Starting your child at a young age with toys and books depicting races or cultures outside of their own will create an organic awareness and appreciation for diversity.
This isn't the same as discussing diversity! Do some research and read firsthand accounts of racism to raise your own awareness of its existence and its effects. Make sure your kids know what qualifies as racism or stereotyping, and teach them to stand up against racism.
Make sure you are not rejecting people simply on the basis that they are different from you in some way. Enjoy friendships from diverse backgrounds and proactively encourage your children to build relationships with children of different races than their own. Kids imitate what they see and hear their parents doing, so YOU are the best person to teach your child to embrace diversity, simply by doing so yourself.
Racism is a multi-layered, complicated social issue. It will not disappear overnight, nor will it disappear even if you constantly practice all of the suggestions on this list, but it's a start.
What do you do to ensure your kids understand that all people are equal?
Hi! Thanks for reading my blog. If you enjoyed this post, you may want to check out this one about a celebrity's take on race, or this post about an important lesson my daughter taught me about race.