How to Build a Culture of Inclusivity Starting With Your Kids

How to Build a Culture of Inclusivity Starting With Your Kids

I’m a parent of three children, ages 8, 10, and 13, with mixed identities. We’re Brown first- and second-generation Americans descended from Indian and Pakistani immigrants.

As a result, I’ve been keenly aware of how my kids are relating to their identities as they engage in their own paths of self-discovery.

Each has grappled in their own way with understanding how they “fit” into their surroundings. They code-switch and accentuate aspects of their identity like race, family background, and family culture to better assimilate in their communities.

When we traveled around the world as a family for a year, we all got a lot of practice in code-switching techniques. In each country, we accentuated the aspects of our identity that helped us assimilate, to be included by the community as one of their own instead of transactional tourists.

For example, in the 4-plus months that we traveled through Central and South America, we leaned into our Spanish-speaking skills and brown skin to facilitate friendships with locals.

In Cuba, we were proud when we were mistaken for Cubanos and relished an Indian shopkeeper’s delight when our bargaining language switched from Spanish to Hindi.

We loved feeling like locals but were aware of our differences, a balance that kept us culturally humble and hungry to learn.

The feeling of inclusion is powerful, yet it’s easy to take for granted when you’re used to it. Perhaps the best way to capture the power of inclusivity is to remember the painful feeling of its opposite.

Recall the hurt of realizing you weren’t invited to the birthday party or weren’t welcome to sit at the “cool” lunch spot at school. Remember those moments when you weren’t let in on the secret or didn’t get the “inside joke” that others shared?

Exclusion stings. It makes us feel like we are the “other.” We aren’t extended the acceptance, approval, and empathy afforded to those who are included.

In addition to the feeling of exclusion, we can look to science. Research tells us that social relationships affect a number of health outcomes, including physical and mental health.

A sense of belonging makes us feel that we aren’t alone, increasing our ability to cope more effectively with hardships. In other words, the stronger the connections and ties are to the communities we’re exposed to and identify with, the more resilient and empathetic we are likely to become. Here’s the catch. If we find inclusion and a sense of belonging only in like-minded people, we perpetuate implicit biases and discrimination. Put another way, creating “inclusion” through the act of excluding others falsely empowers a few while harming the larger community. For instance, the concept of patriotism hinges upon whether someone […]

Continue reading the rest at www.healthline.com

About the author: curaFUN Contributor
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