America – The Melting Pot
Do you find yourself asking “How can I teach my child to be better than society is currently acting?” We are in control of the next generation – their thoughts, their beliefs, & their future actions. I often find myself thinking how do I go about teaching my four-year-old about diversity? Well, start with the basics and what is more basic than teaching your kids what the melting pot means? The term “melting pot” came into American vocabulary in the 1780’s to describe the mix of nationalities, cultures and ethnicities that had settled in the USA. In Texas alone 2% of individuals are a mixed race. Personally, I think this percentage may be an underestimate, as mixed race people identify more as one race or the other. For instance, my husband who was born and raised in Trinidad, is a mix of Indian (about 70 ish percent), Black and Hispanic. When I asked him what he checks off on forms, he says, “Black”. Despite my naiveite about him not being “Black”, he told me, “but that is not how others will view me”. That statement has stuck with me to this day. I wondered if as a “Black” man, what, if any struggles would he face. I was concerned how I would cope with that struggle as a mother of two mixed race children.
My children do not look like me, but are BEAUTIFUL. Sometimes I feel myself wondering if when my children and I go out, do people even think they are mine. I still struggle when completing forms what to check off for my husband and our children. I do not check anything unless there is the option for “2 or more races.” I often wonder how they will identify themselves. I can only pray that when I am faced with race in my family, I will show compassion to ignorance and that it would be a teaching opportunity for all of us.
A great way to teach your young children about diversity is to look into how other countries celebrate their Independence Day, here are a few to start you off with!
Brazil-September 7, 1822
Brazil gained independence from Portugal with no combat so the day is especially jolly. The celebration is celebrated with a military parade where 30,000 people attend, even the President is present and ends in a fireworks display.
Finland-December 6, 1917
The Finnish people show their patriotism on this day by displaying a flag in store windows, on streets and on cakes. For families, a tradition dating back to WWI, they display 2 candles in windows as a sign of silent protests against Russian oppression and a sign of support (and an offering of shelter) for Finnish men on their way to battle.
Ghana-March 6, 1957
Ghana won independence from the United Kingdom in a big way. They are the first Black African country to break away from the UK. They now celebrate with parades, marches, fireworks, music, dancing, and street and beach parties.
India-August 15, 1947
Over two centuries of British rule ended partly due to Gandhi’s non-violent and civil disobedience movements. It begins on the evening of the 14th when the president delivers a speech to citizens. The next day, the prime minister raises the flag, with a 21 gun salute, the national anthem is sung, and parades. They also fly kites and families have picnics to look across the colorful sky and watch festivities.
Indonesia – August 17, 1945
Currently recognized as Indonesia’s Independence Day — was actually the start of the diplomatic and armed resistance of the Indonesian National Revolution and their fight against the Netherlands, not when their freedom was actually acknowledged. The day begins with a flag ceremony and is celebrated in the nation with games, and music. The winner of this game known as, panjat pinang, must climb tall greased trees where prizes are located. This symbolizes the struggle for independence.
By teaching your kids about different countries you are paving the way for your children to have excellent cultural competence at a young age, therefore shaping the future. If we shape the future generations to come to understand that diversity is important for the community, then we shape the world to be a better place for our grandchildren. & who doesn’t want that?
About Rachel Hodge
Rachel was raised in Dallas, TX and is now a special education teacher. She has been married for 4.5 years and has two children. She enjoys spending as time as possible with them outside-riding, walking, playing, and swimming