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Creating a Culturally Diverse Future for Your Child
By Deb Capone
An old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he represents anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is good - he represents joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The grandfather replied, "The one you feed."
As we live in a racially, ethnically and culturally biased environment that unavoidably reinforces our fears and intolerances, the task of feeding our children with the right information and resources to help them respect and celebrate people who are different than we are is an understandably daunting task.
Cultural and racial bias is the direct result of our country's lack of education about our unique people and their heritages. The subtle, and not so subtle, reminders in our daily lives as to what those differences are should not necessarily be deemed an unavoidable curse that will continue to plague us with negativity.
Instead, our surroundings should afford us opportunities to go beneath the skin of our neighbors and educate our children about whom they are and why we should not be afraid of people who are different, simply because they are different.
Our responsibility as teachers and parents is to challenge our children's opinions with positive discussion and informative education. This is the only way we will ever overcome bias - ethnically, racially, and/or culturally.
Children are not stupid, and they will not believe what we teach them if we do not believe it ourselves. Therefore, the first step to overcome bias and prepare our children for a culturally diverse future is to complete a self-evaluation.
Taking a Gut Check
Write down your first reaction to the questions below...
- How do you feel about white people?
- How do you feel about African Americans?
- How do you feel about Latinos?
- How do you feel about Arabs?
- How do you feel about Asians?
- How do you feel about Russians?
- How do you feel about Indians (Hindu)?
- How do you feel about Native Americans?
- How do you feel about Southerners?
- How do you feel about Northerners?
- How do you feel about people on welfare?
- How do you feel about people that don't speak English?
- How do you feel about homosexuals?
- How do you feel about same sex marriages?
- How do you feel about interracial marriages?
- How do you feel about people who are mentally or physically handicapped?
- How do you feel about children who are adopted or in foster homes?
Are your thoughts negative, positive or stereotyped? Try and think about why you feel that way. Finally, ask yourself if you want to pass these reactions on to your kids?
The key to overcoming bias is realizing the abstract nature of the above questions. Learn that whatever feelings the above questions may have conjured in you about a group of people are just as abstract. The feelings are more about you and your biases than about any group of real people. Every person must be approached as an individual, their uniqueness acknowledged and their heritage appreciated.
Let's all start overcoming biases by feeding the right wolf today.