The (lack of) Diversity in our Lives
Okay, I’ve never been a bracelet model before but I’m pretty sure I nailed it when I put the tub of Swiss spreadable cheese in the pic. You guys (and gals and anyone in between), this tub of spreadable heaven is to diiiiie for. Find it and hoard it. You won’t regret it (okay, don’t just hoard it. That’s weird. Eat it too).
So the bracelet. I won’t leave you hanging. It’s the diversity in my life. (It's astounding... and not in a positive way). Sooooo much white (people). And I had an assortment of colors to choose from! This was from an activity we did at one of our adoption classes. We each got a bag of beads and directions to the activity entitled: How Diverse is Your Universe? And uhhhh, it’s glaringly obvious how NOT diverse my personal universe is! Oh my gosh, even the cheese I was eating in this picture was white!! (okay, that means nothing. Now I’m attributing reason to things I shouldn’t be).
This is the activity:
Select one bead that most closely represents the race of…
Your significant other
Your closest friend
The majority of people with whom you worship (if that's your thing)
Your neighbors (in your building) or on either side of your house
The majority of your coworkers
The majority of the people in your social circle
The author of the last book you read
The people in your favorite music group or band
The people in the last good movie you saw
The people in your favorite TV show
The majority of people with whom you come into contact with during the course of the day
The person who you most admire or who has had the greatest impact on your life.
Welp, there you have it. That is how my bracelet ended up white. It was interesting that during the process of doing this I would try and bargain… for example, “well, maybe not the laaaast book I read but a couple books ago was written by a black person” or “my husband is a minority amongst his coworkers so maybe I should count that.” Like no, Stacy. No. Be honest. I am not to be ashamed of this. It was informative. I am to learn from this. To grow from this.
I have reflected on (and researched…because I loooooove me some good research) why I want to expand the diversity in our lives. Here are the main reasons I came up with:
Perspective: I don’t want to become tunnel-visioned. I want to learn from those around me and have my beliefs challenged. I want to remain open-minded, even at the age of 102 (I’ll get there! Fueled by chocolate milk and gummies…I’m coming for you 102!) Mind you, I have struggled with being open-minded in my profession and am constantly striving to grow in this area. I just get a little over passionate sometimes… (some colleagues may say stubborn). I say “Tomato, tomato” (wait, toe-may-toe, tuh-ma-toe. There. Got it). I want to better understand those that differ from me. Close mindedness isn’t a productive or attractive trait.
Check our privilege and have some role in reducing the perpetuation of systemic racism: This should come as no shock…We’re white. While I am very proud of my ¼ Japanese heritage, Mike and I have bloodlines that come through Germany, Austria, France, Ireland, Russia… and we also live in a country that continues to systematically favor people who have similar backgrounds as us (if their skin is sufficiently light), while being crappy to people of color to put it mildly. Umm.. that’s not a system that is okay. We live in one of the most segregated cities in the country, and see the effects of systematic racism every day in our neighborhoods and schools. It is our duty (I can’t type duty without saying doodie in my head and giggling… haha. poop) to continue to work to understand better how we have benefitted from it, how we might be perpetuating it, and how we can do whatever we can to resist the continuation of seriously wack treatment of people of color (omg. I just looked up ‘wack’ on urbanthesaurus.org and their example was JaRule: the ‘wack’ ass rapper who sounds like Cookie Monster. I’m dying… really? I guess he does! I mean if you take away anything from this blog post, take away that). By expanding the diversity in our lives, we are afforded the opportunity of insight, reflection, and ultimately growth.
Development of Empathy: Empathy is one of the most beautiful things humans are capable of and I never want to stop pushing myself to understand and share the feelings of others. This. This most definitely the greatest attribute I want my children to have, hands down (along with being able to touch the tip of their tongue to their nose). If my child can empathize with someone that others perceive as ‘the most unlovable’, my heart will freakin burst. But we (my family) need to *’expand the diversity’ in our lives to continue practicing taking on and understanding differing perspectives and developing our ability to empathize.
*expand the diversity’: I said this above and I feel like it sounds insincere. Like I am going to walk up to the first person I see who isn’t white and be like “hey, I’m Stacy. Want to be friends?” and then I will walk away and make a tally mark under their race on the table I have attached to my clipboard. No people. When I say expand the diversity in our lives, I mean fostering real relationships, having intentional contact with, and communication with people from different backgrounds. That’s what I mean when I say ‘expand the diversity in our lives’. Then I will make the tally mark (Just kidding! Geesh!)
Acceptance: I do NOT want my child to mistake tolerance for acceptance. These are two totally different things. A child (or adult, or teen, or any anthropoid for that matter) that stops at tolerance is still discriminating. I need to show my children acceptance in my interactions with others. Does my personal universe (refer to colors or lack there of) in my bracelet show my child that I am accepting of others who are different than myself? Not really. Yet I believe myself to be an accepting person. It’s time my actions model this. (Sooooo if you have different beliefs, skin color, origins, or toys, wanna play?)
(this bullet point is here because no matter how many times I try, I cannot get it to go away!)
Social Development: As a teacher, I am constantly striving to learn about the cultures and customs of my student’s families. I want to be sure I am showing respect, honoring their customs, and making content relatable to them. But outside of my profession, I’m not pushed to do this as much. Most recently, I have been learning about Judaism to better understand a friend’s background and life choices, but other than that, I haven’t been pushed to grow in this area. Again, this shows me the need to expand the diversity in our lives.
I am sure there are some obvious reasons I missed when thinking of why it is important to expand the diversity in our lives (holy broken record on that phrase), but what is most important to me is that I am acknowledging it. I can no longer say “I was best friends with the only black girl in my elementary school” (Heyyy Yvonne!) lol. This doesn’t pass me on a test of diversity (although I sure learned a lot about hair care when I used what I thought was shampoo in her shower at a sleepover). The information I gained through this activity is information I am still digesting and figuring out how it informs some of the decision making my family does moving forward (in life).
Truth is, we don’t know the race of our next child. But I do know that it doesn’t matter. Even if they are Caucasian, this information and need for continued growth in this area still stands. My hope is that I can make this bracelet again in a year and it will look a little different (or a lot different, but I am looking to set realistic expectations. You know, the letter R in SMART goals. My nerds, you with me?).