What is Diversity and Inclusion?

Diversity and Inclusion are a couple of key buzz words that we are hearing a lot about lately. Do you know what they mean when they say diversity and inclusion?

Good Morning! My name is Sharon McAleer and I am the owner and visionary of Mentoring A Dream.

Before we get started, I want to recognize today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Today is an official day of service and celebrates the civil rights leader’s life and legacy. Be sure to check out our social media posts which highlight some ways that you and your teen can be of service to others not just today, but everyday.

Diversity and Inclusion – Definitions

Part of my vision is to educate parents and caring adults about the challenges that teens face. Having some knowledge about them can help you have talks with your teens about these topics. So, let’s get started with some basic definitions.

  • Diversity is the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds, different genders, or different sexual orientations. Our country is composed of many people from different social and ethnic backgrounds.
  • Inclusion is not only being aware that there are differences between the people in our country, but being willing to accept those differences and giving them the same level of respect and opportunity that others in our country have.

Accepting our country’s diversity

The History of Diversity in our country is key to understanding how the United States was created and how we interact with others who we may see as being different from us. Our country is composed of many people from different social and ethnic backgrounds. The history of our country has been about all types of people coming together and trying to make it the land of opportunity.

Many people were running from bad situations in Europe and Asia to ride for days on a boat to arrive at Ellis Island, the final check in point before officially coming to America. Arriving at Ellis Island has become a poetic symbol of the American Dream. Upon arriving here, they soon found out there was already a hierarchy that judged and treated people based on the fact they were different. It created a situation that may or may not have been better than where they came from.

To make society work together, there must be acceptance on both sides by ones who were already here and those who are new. Each group of immigrants has a different assimilation story to tell as they became part of this new and developing country.

Inclusion of people who are different from us is important to accepting the diversity in our country.

How do we learn more about diversity and inclusion?

One of the best ways to make sure we are helping to unite in diversity is to learn more about what diversity and inclusion is. It is fine to have the definitions, but how do we really learn more about it?

Appreciate and accept others

We create different events and months to appreciate different cultures and causes. Appreciation is only a first step. We must then accept that they are different and include them in our lives knowing that those differences will be a part of the relationship. Take time to learn about the background of these different appreciation days. Like for today, Google Martin Luther King, Jr. and find out why this is a day of service. I will say, there is a lot of information about diversity out there and it can get confusing. Just through internet searches and real time news, one can see new ideas on diversity daily. Be willing and open to talk about how you feel and ask questions, so you don’t become misguided by all the information you are seeing.

Meeting others who share our passions and interests

When a group of people get together with a common goal, things can be accomplished. When you find other people that share your thoughts and vision, it helps you feel less alone or think that you are the only one who feels that way.

Getting involved in community organization will also help us meet new people from our communities and other cultures. The fact that there is a shared interest will be a great topic to start getting to know others and learn more about them and the culture they may be from, which may be different from their own.

When meeting new people, be open to what they have to say and what they believe. They may not agree with what you believe and vice versa, but be open to communicating and learning new ideas and ways of doing things.

What can adults do to help?

Sometimes teens will need a little help to see the benefits of learning more about diversity and inclusion and will need the adults in their lives to give them a little nudge. It may not be something they will be able to just jump into. How you feel about diversity can also impact how they will react to it. As you are learning more about how you feel, here are some additional resources to check out for ideas.

Check with their school

School is a great place to be around others who are different from us. Find out what programs they are using to help teens with diversity and inclusion.

Listen to your teen for their views

Do your research and figure out how you feel about diversity and be open to talking with your teen or young adult about how they feel about it. This conversation can bring up some very personal feelings about you and them. Help them navigate those feelings so they can feel confident in how they feel about and treat others.

Check out my resource page

I have a list of great resources to check into about diversity and other topics on my resources page. Here is a link to it. Resource Links

Check in with your teen

Acceptance of people who are different from us is important for our country to move forward and come together. Check in with your teen and find out what their thoughts are about diversity and inclusion. See what you can do to become more educated about the differences and inclusive of others.

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