Mix It Up!

October 29, 2013 — 9 Comments

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I have to admit something about myself here. I use to judge people based on the color of their skin. Now I wasn’t a racist because racism is about the superiority of a race. I was more of a diversity snob. If I attended a church or was a part of a group of people who were not diverse in color, I was quick to judge them based on their lack of diversity. In a previous post, I shared how I had the unique upbringing of growing up among multi-cultural people. My world was filled with people of all kinds of backgrounds, cultures and races. I was blessed to grow up in that kind of atmosphere. However, my children are now teaching me that my perspective on diversity was a bit skewed.

There is a growing trend in public schools to teach about diversity. There are assemblies, workshops, school counseling classes and now diverse driven lunches. Today my daughter’s lunch period is called “Mix It Up”. She will enter the cafeteria and be given a colored band and then she has to sit at the table with the same colored balloons. It’s all about promoting diversity and helping kids mix it up among themselves. Now this seems like a wonderful experience and I am sure my daughter will miss sitting with her friends but it will be a good lesson in getting her out of her comfort zone. However, my question is are we doing more harm than good in forcing kids into diversity?

My diverse upbringing was my comfort zone. So much so that when I entered a group of all white people I felt uncomfortable (um, yah, I am white). I often judged them as people who didn’t mix it up and found in the process it was me who had the single-minded opinion of others. When I stopped concentrating so much on how people looked and didn’t have my diversity radar set so high, I began to see the multi-faceted people around me even though they had the same color as my skin. I saw diversity in a broader scope and realized I had a limited world-view about people in general.

Are we hurting our kids in our schools in this quest for forced diversity? Will they learn to constantly see others based on their differences and tally the results instead of just learning how to be a part of the human race?

My own children seem unaffected by my former diversity problem. In fact, they don’t understand why schools promote diversity with such vigor. They were naming all their friends and realized they were all unique and many were of different races and cultures from their own. “I made those friends myself, naturally, because I liked them not because they were diverse”, my daughter stated.

I want my children to grow up in an environment where their race or the race of others is not a factor. I don’t want them to view the world based on other people’s idea of what diversity is or should be. Yes, I realize that there are still people who might be racist or refuse to go outside of their comfort zones. However, I truly believe we cannot force someone out of a pre-conceived idea of race or culture. It has to be a natural process and one where we realize “mixing it up” starts within our own hearts and minds and not forced by the type of people we place around us.

9 responses to Mix It Up!

  1. 

    I agree that forcing children to interact with “diverse” peers is not a good idea. It can have the opposite effect and cause children to dislike the groups they are forced to interact with just because they were forced into the position beyond their will.

    However, I also feel that it is important for people to step outside of their comfort zones and interact with new people as well as engage in new experiences on a regular basis. Novel experiences are what push us to become more flexible in our thinking in general, not just in social interactions.

    The question then becomes, how can we encourage children to step outside of their comfort zones without forcing them into temporary fabricated social groups?

    • 

      Thanks Jeff for your comment.

      I do agree kids need to step outside their comfort zones and it is important. I probably didn’t convey that very well in this piece. I think we encourage it by being role models ourselves. Also I know traveling and going to places that were outside my little world helped me tremendously to see life in a diverse way.

      You gave it the right term- temporary fabricated social groups. That’s it! If something is temporarily fabricated, it probably won’t last. We are fitting kids into a mold that we define not what they define within themselves.

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