Teaching Youth about Diversity and Inclusivity

“We live with the snowflake generation…” you hear someone grumble about the youth nowadays.

But truth be told, is this really a snowflake generation, or one that’s more aware about the issues that we have with gender inclusivity and diversity and isn’t brushing it under the rug anymore?

Sure, we’d like to make this sweeping statement about people being too delicate and being offended by everything. But by making this statement, we’re disregarding one glaring hole in our logic – we’re still ignoring the problem, which is that for decades, we were okay with being strictly limited in our perceptions, whether in the media or our own thinking, and now, we’re being made aware of it.

And that’s awkward to accept.

Addressing the Multi-Cultural Elephant in the Room
It’s 2018. We’ve sent a car into space, we’ve almost eradicated polio and we have phones that double as watches. Clearly, we’ve progressed in terms of intellect and technology.

Yet, with so much progress, many still haven’t (or won’t) come to terms with the obvious facts, that the world is in fact, diverse and multi-cultural. That there are 4,200 religions in the world, 195 countries, and 7.442 billion people as of 2016!

This world is crowded with people of diverse thoughts and if we want to survive in this environment, we must stop forcing the agenda that the world belongs to just one group or ethnicity or skin color. We must accept this, and spread the message. Otherwise we’re only doing a disservice to our future generations.

An Example of Why Diversity is needed
Recently Serena Williams, one of the most notable tennis players in the world, was hit with fines totally $17,000 for three violations, according to the US Tennis Association. She was accused of cheating after her coach Patrick Mouratoglou gave her a hand signal that was meant to be encouraging in nature. But the umpire Carlos Ramos thought otherwise. He penalized Williams, first a point and then the entire game.

This obviously exacerbated Williams who then went on to accuse Ramos of being a thief because he took a point from her. In her post-match news conference, she stated that there was undue racism and sexism in the game, mainly because there have been numerous accounts where male players acted in worse ways, but were not penalized as Williams was.

In response, there was a lot of criticism and racism directed supremely towards Serena Williams, along with a cartoon posted in the Herald Sun, which was quite reminiscent of the caricatures that were drawing during the Jim Crow era.

This is why we need to teach our youth about inclusivity and diversity. Because making jokes and taking racism and sexism lightly is taking us backward, into the dark ages instead an age of enlightenment.

Small Steps and Moving Mountains
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your smallest efforts will not feel like they’re making any such changes today. But that’s not what you’re supposed to do.

Instead of giving your all into being inclusive and diverse, start small. Start with yourself first. Let go of stereotyping and the prejudices that you’ve nurtured in your heart. Look at your community and its members as people, not personalities you’ve seen on TV.

Stop generalizing and see people for the individuals they are and accept the flaw in your thinking. Encourage your children to honor and respect others. And get out of that culture bubble we’ve drawn around ourselves. Embrace and learn about other cultures, races, religions and sexual preferences yourself, and do not take all your knowledge from online sources or the news.

Do not be blind to bias and prejudice. Open your world to the people around you..

Take Preemptive Measures
Sign your youth up for organizations such as Youth with a Future so they can participate in urban youth leadership development workshops.

Who knows! Maybe this will give them the chance to learn how even with different lives, ideas and cultures, we all can still be part of a singular global community, a diverse one!

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