When you have children in your life, it’s bound to happen that they will say something that embarrasses you in public. Sometimes it’s more painful than other times. But likely every caregiver has had at least one experience where a child has noticed something about someone out loud.
What does that man have on his head?
What happened to her leg?
Why is her skin so dark?
If you’re lucky, the people in question (should they overhear) will understand that children are curious and anything that is different from their reality causes curiosity. They are asking because they want to know. And that’s not a bad thing. Knowledge helps create understanding, which can help to create acceptance and…equity and inclusion.
What can we learn from kids?
If we paid more attention to each other, we would know more about each other and the world would be a different place. So our kids are leading the way – if we let them and don’t impose all the baggage we have learned over time on their innocent desires for information. We could learn a thing or two by being more “child-like” in this case.
We are not all the same.
We have different bodies, different realities, different needs…and different experiences because of these.
Those are facts.
And so, it’s ok to notice difference.
Difference is not a bad thing.
The problem is what we make it mean…
The problem isn’t noticing. It’s the value judgments that have come along with those differences that have led us astray. It’s what we have learned to make those differences mean in terms of who has more and who is “better”.
Little kids (3-6 years old, say) aren’t doing that. Not for the most part (there are exceptions).They just want to know. Because they actually see people. Sadly, as adults we have learned not to….or we have learned to do so for the wrong reasons.
When we set out to create inclusive spaces, awareness is one of the steps. We need to know who people are (and what that means) so that we can create environments where people are seen, heard and valued.