“We’ve all encountered them, people who make jokes about another race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion. Next time, step up … The more you know.” – Ross Mathews, E!’s Hello Ross!
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW…
People differ in many ways along a variety of dimensions, including race, ethnicity, religion, gender, physical and mental ability, sexual orientation, age, education, socioeconomic status, language, and political beliefs.
THE REALITY OF PREJUDICE
Along with the diversity that has characterized our nation from the very beginning, a corresponding history of prejudice has also always existed. Many individuals have preconceived notions about others based on their backgrounds and have judged them as a result. These judgments can lead to discriminatory actions, even though they often have no basis in reality.
OVERCOMING PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION
It is up to each and every one of us to combat prejudice and discrimination in our own way. We must focus on ourselves, recognizing any inner biases or prejudices that we possess and eliminating them from our daily thoughts, ideas, vocabularies and actions. It is important to stand up for those around us and to speak out against jokes and comments; silence implies agreement. Any time just one of us loses our rights, all of our rights are tested and diminished.
PROMOTING DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
Did you know that over 300 languages are spoken in the U.S.? Diversity has always existed, but it is up to us to create an environment where everyone feels heard, supported and included. Now more than ever, as diverse populations within the U.S. continue to grow and the world is becoming increasingly globalized, it is crucial to respect the differences of others. After all, it is the unique differences, strengths and challenges, differing viewpoints and perspectives that innovate schools, workplaces and countries. Every individual brings something new, exciting and important to the table and it is crucial that each person responds in a manner that affirms and values the worth and dignity of the other. Fostering such an open environment encourages everyone to use his or her full, unique potential to accomplish a common goal. By pooling together so many diverse ideas and strengths, we can accomplish more than any one individual can achieve on his or her own.
Diversity also applies to sexual orientation. 15.3 million adults self-identify as LGBT in the United States. The LGBT community is made up of a wide variety of people with diverse backgrounds and interests. Emphasize to your children that name-calling can really hurt, words have consequences. Over half of all students report hearing homophobic remarks at school and 9 out of 10 LGBT students report being harassed in some way during the last year.
SETTING A GOOD EXAMPLE
By celebrating the diversity of your friends, family, and peers, you will set a good example for your children. They will learn to appreciate what makes us all different. Educate your children about their own backgrounds and expose them to other cultures.
WHAT YOU CAN DO…
- Be mindful of your actions and words. Your manner of speech and any jokes that you make are good cues of your inner values and thoughts.
- Speak out against jokes and comments that target certain groups.
- Be more aware of how your cultural background influences how you understand and experience the world in order to understand and respect others.
- Share the characteristics that make you unique with others.
- Cook a national/ethnic dish of your cultural origins for others and share how it reflects some aspect of your culture.
- Read literature from various authors and countries that provide different perspectives.
- Join an organization promoting diversity.
- Set a good example for others around you.
- Have an open mind.