Understanding Diversity and Inclusion

As we continue to explore Black History Month, we have heard a lot about Diversity and Inclusion in the past few years. After the death of George Floyd in 2020, the ideas behind diversity and inclusion came more into the spotlight.

What are diversity and inclusion?

Let’s start with the definitions of diversity and inclusion

Diversity

Diversity is understanding that there are differences between people. Not only racial differences, but differences in culture, religion, sexual orientation, where you live and how much money you make.

Inclusion

Is accepting and including people who are different from ourselves and including them in what we are doing as equal partners.

I really love this image to explain the difference. This quote from Verna Myers, a Diversity and Inclusion Expert, explains the relationship between these two ideas.

Diversity and Inclusion Quote

People have been aware that there were differences between people and cultures for a long time. But awareness is only a first step. Its like sending the invite to your party is only the first step. The next thing is accepting the invite even when they feel they may not be included or may be made fun of. When they arrive, we have to accept who they are, even if they are different from us, and they are all allowed participate in the dance and activities with everyone else.

Resisting Diversity and Inclusion

Many people have been resistant to accepting people of color. This isn’t a new thing, it has been going on for many years. American history has many examples of how people of color were treated differently when they came or were brought to America. There have been a lot of books written recently which point out those events in history and how the way we were taught in school wasn’t the whole truth about what happened.

People of color have battled against prejudice for a long time. But it isn’t only people of color who have, but anyone that is seen as different. Like people who are members of the LGBTQ+ community. There are even laws in place to make it illegal to treat people differently based on their race, gender, sexual orientation etc… We probably wouldn’t need to have these laws in place if we could just treat all people how we would like to be treated. The Golden Rule. This idea is found in many cultures and religions.

Hands of different colors showing diversity and inclusion
Photo by Clay Banks via Unsplash

This photo shows hands of different colors and the fact that they are all together. Another example of diversity and inclusion.

What can we do?

How do you feel about diversity and inclusion? That is is great place to start understanding where you are with it. Our teens have probably picked up on and modeled how we approach this subject and are continuing how we feel or are rejecting how we feel and are doing their own thing. Unless we travelled abroad, our teens are exposed to diversity and inclusion a lot more than we were as teens. Before talking to your teens about how they feel, you want to have a good understanding on where you stand on the subject.

In a more general sense, to create more diversity and inclusion, we need to have more of both.

More acceptance of diversity

Change is hard for some people. It may be easier to have things stay the same but change and acceptance of others and their differences will help us to grow together. Embracing diversity as a good thing. With diversity comes all sorts of different ethnic foods for us to enjoy, celebrations from other countries to learn about and new ways of doing things to explore. Engaging in these activities and asking about them can lead to great conversations and build relationships with others who are different from ourselves.

More inclusion

Acceptance and inclusion are action words. It is fine to accept diversity. This will help change the mindset about being different from someone else as being a bad thing. Making an effort to reach out to someone who is being treated badly because they are different is inclusion. Take the time to learn about someone who is different and building a relationship with them. Embrace them just for being people and not as being a color or a belief.

What else can we do?

  • Be respectful of all people regardless of how they look or what they believe in. Agree to disagree if needed, but be willing to listen to their side.
  • Not only know they are different, but embrace that fact and talk to them about what makes you different from each other.
  • Accept the ideas of diversity and inclusion and pursue actions to make the mindset become more of a reality.
  • Find a local event or museum to learn more about other cultures. Exposing our teens and ourselves to people who are different from us will go a long way to more inclusion.

Blacks and people of color are sharing the challenges of being treated differently just because of the color of their skin. Understanding diversity and the inclusion will go far to change the current views in our society. It will help everybody feel included for who they are.

What experiences have you faced with Diversity and Inclusion of yourself or others? Please let me know in the comments below.

Looking for more resources about this teen challenge or any others? Be sure to check out our Resources page.

The Way Series has characters from different cultures

The Way Series Photo

When my editor Michelle and I worked through early revisions of The Hard Way and Shawn’s Way, and now The Street’s Way, we made sure to have characters of different racial backgrounds in the series to match the racial makeup typically found in a borough of a city like New York City (which Manor City is loosely based on). And that characters of different backgrounds could come together as friends. Learn more about the coming-of-age series on the books tab of my author website Selma P. Verde – Books.

Have a great week!

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