Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Vital Need for Diversity, Inclusion, & Equity

by Stacey Ebert / Jul 07, 2020 /
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'No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion...And if they can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love' - Nelson Mandela

The world continues to open amidst a global pandemic. On top of the everything that comes along with public health, safety, and the back and forth between those with a 'me' attitude and those with one of 'we', in the past 6 weeks, after a line of unconscionable acts against People of Color and spurred by the brutal public murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, people around the world continue to be a part of epic protests against systemic racisim. If racism, police performance, nor white privilege were part of your everyday conversations prior to 2020, you may find them present, now. In the words of Coach Herman Boone, Denzel Washington's character in Remember the Titans, 'I don't care if you're black, green, blue, white, or orange'—these often difficult conversations must and are happening at kitchen tables and on social media feeds on every continent. 

How are you showing up? 

More importantly, how are you sharing these details with the next generation—and, in ways appropriate to their development, how you will encourage them to show up and keep showing up? 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Vital Need for Diversity, Inclusion, & Equity

These talks can be hard, yet the systemic oppression and treatment of one race over another is far more horrific than any kitchen table chat.

Words like bias, privilege, systemic, oppression, bystander, and silence cannot be left out of the conversation. They are necessary, they are critical, and these talks can spur changes in attitudes as well as actions.

It is the job of each and every citizen to acknowledge what is happening and work to be a part of positive change, positive actions, and positive solutions.

Whether it's marching, voting, sharing, advocating, allying, or supporting, each requires the ability to intently listen, mindfully hear, and vividly see situations, people, and actions. We must all be a part of the change for the better—it starts with us. How will you be sure your children, students, family members, and peers show up?

'We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color' - Maya Angelou

Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Vital Need for Diversity, Inclusion, & Equity

Actionable Steps for discussing issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity that are vital to our communal success 

'Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen' - Winston Churchill

Start the conversation

Listen intently, share experiences respectfully, speak mindfully, and remember (especially for anyone in a dominant majority situation), there are often times when listening is far more important than speaking. 

These conversations are hard. They are often messy. 

It's in the listening and the sharing where the lessons take place and the learning happens. Each person deserves the opportunity to share their story—and that experience has equal merit to your own. Respect, kindness, empathy, and openness are all necessary at that table, on that couch, or in the social media world. 

If we bring those with us to each conversation, it is potentially possible that the lives of all involved in the conversation will shift in the positive direction.   

Learn more

Where do you go to learn things? Head to a virtual library—or whenever you are able, a brick and mortar one. Are you a web surfer? Do you know how to vet a website before you dive deep into their available content? Who do you follow on social media—and why do you follow them? 

Check your sources. 

Seek facts. 

Engage experts. 

Ask questions of scholars, leaders, activists, and change-makers. 

Listen to podcasts that elevate voices that have too often been muffled. Read books that amplify cultures, voices, and experiences different to that of your own. 

Comb through history to find voices of the minority to experience stories through their eyes and not solely that of the dominant majority. Realize that there's more yet to be uncovered; it's up to you to be the journalist, detective, historian, and change maker.

'Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it' - George Santayana

Ask questions

How can you find vetted answers from reliable sources? From whom are you getting your information? Is it from a reputable source? Is it a biased opinion? Engage in discourse with experts from all walks of life. 

Ask the difficult questions—and actively listen to the often difficult answers. 

Write to authors if you want to know more. 

Seek out interesting and enlightening sources and ask to learn more of their stories. 

Find groups that are welcoming—join them, listen, ask, learn. 

As we all learn differently, find the way that works for you and engage intentionally. Introverts might prefer reading; extroverts might prefer group discussions. Audio learners might prefer podcasts or video interviews. Kinesthetic learners might prefer attending activist rallies, marches, or peaceful protests. Older students might be interested in delving further into the diversity and inclusion policies of large corporations, the opinions of high profile figures, or those of major activists.

Ask and listen—this is how we grow together.

Find stories relevant to age and stage

It's possible that your students are in traditional school, yet it's also possible that in a viral epidemic or otherwise, your children are using distance learning, unschooling, or other traditionally non-traditional and non brick and mortar methods. Where do you often go to research and learn stories that share historical stories, methods, and actionable, ethical lessons? 

Call your public library—they are filled with knowledge of books far and wide. 

Check out international learning sites for lists of culturally specific developmental books acceptable for students at a particular age and stage. Sesame Street, Disney, public broadcasting studios, and more are often fabulous venues for development. Children often learn best through stories, play, and activities. 

Choose ones that work for your learners that continue to stimulate their senses, activate their compassion muscles, raise their levels of empathy, allow for pauses and questions, and make learning new and different, fun.

'We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race' - Kofi Annan

Watch documentaries

Today, we're living in a time when you can press a button and watch a movie, series, or documentary from around the globe in the comfort of your own home. Some of us carry portable computers in the palm of our hands, and our access to all things virtual comes along on our adventures. 

Use that travel time well. 

Watch documentaries focused on the issues behind diversity and inclusion. Those old school documentaries our parents may have seen in high school are still available today. There are more and more out there that share experiences like those that happened in Stonewall, the story of Matthew Shepard, the events of the Civil Rights Movement, the voices of Native Americans, women, latinos, the disabled, the trans community, and heaps of groups that have too often been the victims of hatred and abuse. 

Learn to see the world through a lens different than your own—this is how we learn to do better.

Listen to voices different than your own

Whether those are podcasts, virtual lessons, influencers, thought leaders, neighbors, family members, youth group members, colleagues, friends, or travelers of different backgrounds—there is access, use it well. With the global world at our virtual fingertips, we have access to a range of voices and a wealth of knowledge—if only we choose to activate our access. 

Pay attention to movements embracing equity and equality, show up to hear speakers share their stories of injustice and hope, join organizations that emphasize rights and fair treatment for all people. 

Stay engaged in the conversations that involve elevating all to equal levels. When people are empowered to share their stories and those listening are actively engaged and respectful, we all win.

'Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness' - Mark Twain

Through the Eyes of an Educator: The Vital Need for Diversity, Inclusion, & Equity

As travelers, we get to see the world through a different lens than many others. Many of us have had the privilege of leaving our town, city, state, province, country, and even continent. 

We've broken bread in a land where the language is different from our own, shared public transportation with humans who looked different, and both experienced and shared compassion on the road. 

Our choices define us, our actions speak louder than words, and our ideals and ethics are with us wherever we roam. 

Some of the best parts of travel are found in the differences; it's our job to continue to embrace those beautiful differences and not only make room for them at the table, but be sure to mindfully listen when those voices and experiences are shared. We are all part of the shared human experience. 

When we are all equally able to share our stories, society will be a far fairer and more beautiful place in which to live.

 

Stacey Ebert, our Educational Travels Editor, is a traveler at heart who met her Australian-born husband while on a trip in New Zealand. Stacey was an extracurricular advisor and taught history in a Long Island public high school for over fifteen years, enjoying both the formal and informal educational practices. After a one year 'round the world honeymoon, travel and its many gifts changed her perspective. She has since left the educational world to focus on writing and travel. She is energetic and enthusiastic about long term travel, finding what makes you happy and making the leap. In her spare time she is an event planner, yogi, dark chocolate lover, and spends as much time as possible with her toes in the sand.

Check out her website at thegiftoftravel.wordpress.com for more of her travel musings.