Blog

Equity, Inclusion, Community and Unity

February 3, 2021

As directed by our new President, our team of clinicians took some time to think about how families can build a culture of inclusion, community, togetherness and unity within and among one another. They have put together some wonderful ideas on how your family can incorporate this. We all need to strive towards change and a more equitable future together.

Promote Inclusion, Community, Togetherness and Unity

 


Rebecca Staines, School/Licensed Professional Counselor

This month’s topic is centered around the question – “How can families build a culture of inclusion, community, togetherness, and unity within and among one another?” While this is no easy task, especially in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, below are some ideas for how you and the family can start to find a sense of unity and togetherness. Both as a family and in your local community.

The beginning of any type of project can be overwhelming, so I would advise trying one idea from this list each month and see what works best for you and your family.

Ways to Build a Culture of Inclusion and Equity:

  • If your children are younger, purchase books for bedtime that talk about families from other backgrounds.
  • Reach out to family members with different viewpoints and have a discussion. Be careful to ask questions that seek to understand and listen, rather than listening to respond with judgment.
  • Watch a movie as a family about another person’s experience or struggle. Then have a family discussion about everyone’s reactions to the film. 
  • Cook a dish from another culture and have your kids research where the dish came from.
  • Pick a charity that supports a disadvantaged group. Donate to that organization or find out ways you and your family can volunteer and become involved with the charity. 
  • Paint rocks with positive messages. Leave them around your neighborhood for local community members to find.
  • Join a Zoom support group in your community or consider getting involved with your HOA.
  • Create a community library dropbox where people can borrow and donate books to read. 
  • Offer to deliver groceries to an elderly neighbor or relative. 
  • Interview a friend who celebrates a different faith from your own to find out about their own unique experiences. 
  • Have a family book club where you read about the experiences of someone from a different background/culture than your own. 

Kasey Cain, Licensed Professional Counselor 

It will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me that my two tips for families working to build a culture of inclusion, unity, and community are to read and to talk. Two of my personal favorite things!

I have heard it said that “You enter a new world every time you open the pages of a book”. And, I believe it to be true. In books, we experience all the feelings – empathy, frustration, fear, hope, resilience, love, etc. Reading allows you to explore common beliefs and values as well as those that are different from you. It is important for children to see themselves in the pages of a book and to see children, cultures, and places different from them. In her TedTalk, The Dangers of a Single Story, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explains how our lives and cultures are composed of many overlapping stories. She goes on to say how important it is for us to recognize and honor multiple stories.

One of my favorite organizations, We Need Diverse Books, is a non-profit, grassroots group that advocates for and promotes literature that “reflects and honors the lives of all young people.” Kids, teens, parents, and teachers can visit their site to discover diverse books.

Reading often leads to my second favorite thing – talking. Books can be the springboard for conversations on any topic. You can discuss feelings that were sparked by the book. Share your perspectives on themes of inclusion, unity, and community. Personally, I have been reading This Book Is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell and using the text and activities from the book in conversations at home and at work. 

Continue Your Lessons About Inclusion With:

Creating an Inclusive Home and School Community, and
Dos and Don’ts of Talking about Race with Kids

I hope you find the time to cuddle up with a book. Share that story and many more with your loved ones.


Whitney Taylor, Resident in Counseling 

Why do some cultures believe eye contact is a sign of disrespect while others demand it? Do you expect your guests to remove their shoes at the door? Did you know that in Malaysia, pointing with the thumb (not the index finger) is incredibly offensive?

I remember being in the 10th grade when I first read A Raisin In The Sun and was introduced to the concept of assimilation – the detriment of inclusion. The symbol of Beneatha Younger’s hair struck me. Before being introduced to her character, I had never stopped to think about why I had grown to dress a certain way, believe certain things, and think specific thoughts. All without ever stopping to ask myself what influences me to do so. Beneatha’s character is a young African American woman growing up in the 1960s who, halfway through the book, makes the decision to present herself in a way that enables the reconciliation of her true identity and culture. In order to do so, she cut her caucasian assimilated hair and embraced her natural afro.

Ways to Promote Inclusion:

In an effort to support families in opening up the conversation around inclusion and diversity, I want to offer a few suggestions:

  • Know your own culture. What are your beliefs and best practices and why are you passing those beliefs down to your children? Are your beliefs the product of your upbringing? Or have you changed them through adulthood? Share your journey – this models growth and transparency.
  • Read. Seek out books by authors and people who are vastly different from you. Start book exchanges with families whom you know practice a different culture than yours.
  • Cook authentic recipes. What would you find on a menu in Chile? How does Peruvian food taste? Try cooking a new recipe from a different culture once a month. Include culture meal-time etiquette in your recipe research. Try practicing the respective do’s and dont’s.
  • Community opportunities. While this is vastly more difficult in times of COVID, community experiences like concerts, plays, & museums provide a deep well of diverse learning engagement. Many communities have frequent, and sometimes free, opportunities for cultural education and inclusion.

Let us know how you incorporate these important lessons of equity and inclusion with your family.

Until next time, Be Wise!

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