On Diversity

tnraj

A friend left a comment on my recent post about raising boys and it got me thinking. This friend’s child has multiple special needs and is confined to a wheelchair. In the comment, she suggested that exposing children to diversity (not just in concept) contributes to compassion. Most of the children who have grown up around her son are empathetic and kind with him.

A transgendered friend has also shared with me that the kids she grew up with from early childhood were always accepting. She began to have problems when she changed schools as a teen and encountered kids who were unfamiliar with her gender identification.

When I consider diversity, race is usually the first thing on my mind. When I was first visiting pre-schools, I always looked around and counted the number of brown faces I saw, putting it into my mental filing cabinet. My friend’s comment reminded me that diversity goes way beyond race. Parents of children with special needs offer something of great value to any school or community.

Sometimes the rabid competition to get into good schools in Los Angeles can prompt me to think in a conformist way and try to portray my family as something more mainstream than we truly are. I want to always remember that our strength is in difference. That is where we shine.

3 Responses to 'On Diversity'

  1. I’m so with you–I’m revising the book I co-wrote about autism, and I JUST wrote these sentences: “We all benefit when our society becomes more tolerant. Different perspectives, different experiences, different cultures—these things enrich our shared body of knowledge.”

    • Jillian says:

      Of COURSE you’re with me- I stole this whole idea from your book in the first place. Wish I had said it as elegantly as you!

  2. Khadija says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. My (1/2 African, 1/2 white) 17 year old daughter grew up in a totally ethnically mixed Islamic community in Seattle. When I moved her to LA she was questioned about her “non-blackness” and was shocked by the segregation within LA. Her experiences have made her a strong, social justice minded young woman and I am positive that her reflections on her experiences growing up in many cultures and religions (her 2 brothers are not Muslims and step-dad is Buddhist) that she used as the basis of her college essays got her into most all of the schools she applied to and most importantly will serve her well throughout her life.

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