Posts Tagged ‘diversity’

two people side by side reading books

This year, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join over 100 of my colleagues in reading and discussing the book Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum. Together, we chose to focus on racial literacy through a yearlong book club and respectful dialogue series.

According to the Ohio State University Office of Diversity and Inclusion, respectful dialogue is “engagement in honest, thoughtful and reflexive conversation with the goal of understanding one another.” When engaging in respectful dialogue, you do not have to agree with or adopt the perspectives of all others. Instead, you listen to other perspectives with curiosity and the goal of learning.

When engaging in a respectful dialogue, it is helpful for all participants to establish and agree to common expectations for the conversation. Some of the expectations our book club group adopted include:

  • Speak from your own experience only. No one is a spokesperson for an entire group.
  • Assume positive intention, but own your impact.
  • If you are upset or offended, say so, and say why.
  • No shame or blame – be gracious and remember we are all learning.
  • Listen to understand, not to respond.
  • Challenge by choice. No one should ever feel pressured to interact or engage.
  • Try leaning into the discomfort that these conversations can sometimes evoke.
  • Be empathetic and compassionate – toward others AND yourself.
  • Be respectful, even if you disagree with something.
  • Remember it’s okay to disagree, but don’t make it personal. Stick to the issue. No name-calling or put-downs.

If you’re interested in participating in a respectful dialogue on a tough topic but don’t know where to start, reach out to your local library to see if they have any upcoming events you could join. For example, the Columbus Metropolitan Library joined eight other libraries in central Ohio for an 11-week One Book, One Community event in November 2020 – January 2021. In 2021, they hosted monthly virtual panel discussions on race and social justice, each one centering on a different book, movie, article, or music selection. Many of these selections and other titles that your local library may be able to recommend come with discussion guides you can use to host a respectful dialogue of your own with friends, family members, or co-workers.

On the topic of racial literacy, the American Library Association has a list of recommended anti-racism titles for all ages, and both Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Common Sense Media offer advice for parents on talking about racism with children. As the parent to a toddler, one thing I learned from my experience reading this particular book and participating in this book club is the importance of starting conversations about tough topics early in life.

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County.

Reviewed by: Laura Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County.


American Library Association (2020). Reading for change: Booklist recommended antiracism titles for all ages. https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/reading-change-booklist-recommends-antiracism-titles-ages

Common Sense Media (2020). How to talk with kids about racism and racial violence. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/how-to-talk-with-kids-about-racism-and-racial-violence

Nationwide Children’s (2020). How to talk to your kids about racism. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/700childrens/2020/06/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-racism

The Ohio State University Office of Diversity and Inclusion. (n.d.) Respectful Dialogue Toolkit. https://odi.osu.edu/respectful-dialogue-toolkit

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Diversity is a word you hear often – “we need more diversity in the workforce,” or “we live in a diverse community.” But what does this really mean? The Oxford Dictionaries Online states that some key words of diversity include difference, variety, and variable. Diversity refers to those human differences that make us unique and set up apart from others. Diversity can include differences in skin color, personality, language, and much more.

Any exploration of diversity should start by looking inward and examining our first judgments about others who are different from us. Exploring diversity in our world is a way to expand and help us see a fuller picture of those around us.

As we celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 19, 2015, we need to ask ourselves “What am I actively doing to promote the courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that defined Dr. King’s spirit and energy?” “What am I doing to promote and encourage diversity?”

What quotes will inspire you?

Think about and practice quotes which will encourage you to promote diversity. In the words of M. Scott Peck, “Share our similarities, celebrate our differences.” Senator Edward Kennedy said “What divides us pales in comparison to what unites us.” “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength,” according to Maya Angelou. Yuri Kochiyama knew what he was talking about when he said “Don’t become too narrow. Live fully. Meet all kinds of people. You’ll learn something from everyone. Follow what you feel in your heart.”

Did you know?

  • According to the Human Genome Project, people are more than 99.9 percent identical at the DNA level.
  • According to smartplanet.com, the top most diverse cities in 2011 were found in California followed by Washington, D.C., and New York City.
  • Youth with disabilities are among with poorest and most marginalized of the world’s young people. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimates 98 percent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school, and 99 percent of girls with disabilities are illiterate.
  • The hunger relief organization Feeding America tells us that one in every six people in the United States is hungry every day.

What are some important questions to ask and discuss?

  • How do you define diversity?
  • How did you form your definition of diversity?
  • Why is diversity important to you and your future?
  • Why is it important to recognize the similarities and differences we have with others?
  • How have you actively show sensitivity to those with disabilities?
  • In what other ways do you think your life is different from someone your age but living in a different part of your community or United States?
  • How might you handle another person’s views on politics or a controversial topic that differs from your own?
  • What does equality mean to you?

Where can I find some resources on Diversity?

What’s one final thought about Diversity?

In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Remember, we can all keep that dream alive within ourselves, our families and our communities. Continue to dream because diversity is the source of our strength!

Written by: Janet Wasko Myers, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, Ohio State University Extension, Madison County, myers.31@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu


Diversity: The Source of Our Strength, Ohio 4-H Project Book 372, The Ohio State University Extension, http://estore.osu-extension.org/ or available through your local OSU Extension office.



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