A child’s perception of diversity


I had coffee with a friend recently. We were talking about how diverse some schools were and others not. My friend’s child had just started in the same school as my kids and had not been exposed to this diverse an environment. He had not seen so many different colors of skin. My friend laughed and told me her son came home and said this to her. “Mom, I have never seen so many colors. It went all the way from dark, alittle lighter, lighter, beige, lightest and children whose eyes are shaped differently than mine.” (We live in a small city where diversity is truly hard to find.) My friend’s son was very excited.

My friend then told me, “I don’t want my son to be ignorant. So I decided to educate him and told him that some students are African-American, some are White, some are Asian as in Indian, Korean, Chinese and some are African.”

My response was to marvel at her son’s perception of the physical differences in humans. The only thing noticeable to him was the color of the skin and the shape of the eyes. He did not say, “Oh! that person is Chinese and that person is African-american. They are different from me. I probably shouldn’t talk to them.” He wasn’t saying a student was from a particular culture or a specific ethnicity or a country and stereotyping them. Instead he was excited that everyone was different and he could have more friends.

That of course got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could adopt his way of looking at people? Then maybe we would be less prejudiced, less biased.

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