I wrote this post on June 1st, 2020 and shared it on my Facebook page. I wasn’t writing in my blog yet, so I am sharing it again here (editing for clarity + additional thoughts).
I want Theo to grow up in a world in which I am proud to live. There’s a lot of good in this world, but there’s a lot of bad in this world. I consider myself to be a worldly, well-rounded, progressive, and inclusive person, however I’m ashamed that it’s taken me until now to realize that I need to take action, which for my family, starts at home. There’s another human life that I’m responsible for now, and it’s incredibly important for me to teach him how to be a good human being. There are so many different kinds of people in this world, and I’ve learned the most from those who are different from me. I want to thank all of you for teaching me, and making me a better person for it.
When I was young, American Girl dolls were just becoming a thing. And there were only 4 of them. Samantha, Molly, Felicity, and Kirsten. Looking back, my privilege started with dolls and books. Molly looked just like me – brown hair, white skin, glasses. She was my favorite too. I wonder why? My brown haired Barbies were my favorite ones. They looked like me. My friends who are minorities, and my age, couldn’t have an American Girl Doll that looked like them (now they are available). I’m not frequently in the Barbie aisle, but I can only assume that most of the Barbies available are your “traditional” blond hair, white, skinny girl. The Baby Sitters Club had 2 minority figures in the book: Claudia, as one of the founding members, and they added in Jessie, as a “little sister” later in the series. However, I don’t remember them discussing their cultures and differences often. Even Bandaids matched my skin tone.
I want my family to DO BETTER. I ordered a bunch of books focused on diversity of all kinds, for Theo. While he isn’t big into books right now, I hope he will appreciate them in the future. We plan to keep race, politics, religion, sexual orientation, etc. a topic in our household, openly discussed with him. We will acknowledge that we come from a place of privilege and educate ourselves on how we can help others who may not come from the same place. We will not shield Theo from what’s happening in the world, but discuss it with him in a way that is age-appropriate. We will let him play with cars and dolls. His favorite TV show has a female, hispanic main character. I have purchased books about other cultures, religions, and sexual orientations. We have toys that feature faces that do not look like him.
Once we can get out and about again, we will spend time with others who are different from us. I want us to discuss and honor those differences, whereas those topics may have felt uncomfortable before. We vow to speak up in circumstances in which we may have remained quiet before, whether little eyes are watching or not.
How do you embrace diversity in your household? Any recommendations on teaching diversity to a toddler? I plan on sharing more books and other toys we like that celebrate diversity in future posts!!