Teen Challenge – History of Diversity in Our Country

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

Did you get a chance to touch base with that teen or young adult in your life last week? When you get a chance, ask your teen about what the word diversity means to them. Acceptance of people who are different from us is important for our country to move forward and come together. Maybe you and your teen want to help by being accepting and inclusive of others. Find out what your teen or young adults’ thoughts are about it.

July’s Theme – United in Diversity

Diversity is the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds, different genders, or different sexual orientations.

Our country is composed of many people from different social and ethnic backgrounds. The history of our country has been about all types of people coming together and trying to make it in the land of opportunity.

In the United States, we are attempting to be inclusive of the many different types of people. It isn’t an easy thing for some people to do. But somehow, we need to become united in our country’s diversity.

This month I am going to focus on the composition of our country and how we can become more united in diversity. Check out my mentor page and see how I am doing it Selma P. Verde – Mentor Page

Our country’s diversity

How we became such a diverse country is people came from all over the world to what was being called ‘the land of opportunity’ to pursue a dream. To be their own person and to not be overruled by others.

Many people were running from bad situations in Europe and Asia to ride for days on a boat to arrive at Ellis Island. A final check in point before arriving in America. Arriving at Ellis Island has become a poetic symbol of the American Dream. When they arrived here, they didn’t know that there was already a hierarchy that judged people for who they were. People who were already here weren’t open to the idea that everybody was equal. It created a situation that may or may not have been better than from where they came from.

To make the society work together, there has to be acceptance on both sides; ones who were already here and those who are new. Each group of immigrants has a different assimilation story to tell as they became part of what was known as the melting pot.

Do you know the term “melting pot?”

There are a couple of different definitions for a melting pot. One of them is a restaurant where you can eat fondue.

The other is in reference to an idealized place where a variety of peoples, cultures, or individuals assimilate into a cohesive whole. This metaphor was popularized by a play entitled “The Melting Pot” which opened in Washington in 1908, a time when immigration was booming from Northwestern Europe.

According to Wikipedia, The Melting Pot is a play by Israel Zangwill, first staged in 1908. It depicts the life of a Russian Jewish immigrant family, the Quixanos. David Quixano has survived a pogrom, which killed his mother and sister, and he wishes to forget this horrible event. He composes an “American Symphony” and wants to look forward to a society free of ethnic divisions and hatred, rather than backward at his traumatic past.

The term “melting pot” is seen as a microaggression

As I was researching the background of the term “melting pot”, I learned that this can be considered a racist or prejudiced term. I will be talking more about “microaggressions” in my Thursday Teen Talk post, but it is defined as

a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority)

When referring to American as a “melting pot” we are suggesting that everyone assimilates to the dominate culture.

Realize that microaggressions are typically not intentional. We are all learning how to navigate diversity. It falls back to being respectful of others even if it doesn’t have anything to do with diversity. If a comment is going to offend someone, don’t say it.

How do we learn more about diversity?

One of the best ways to make sure we are helping to unite in diversity is to learn more about what diversity is. How do we do that?

Appreciate and accept others

We can appreciate people from all different backgrounds. We create different events and months to appreciate different cultures and causes. Appreciation is only a first step. We must then accept that they are different and include them in our lives knowing that those differences will be a part of the relationship.

There is a lot of information about diversity out there and it can get confusing. Just through internet searches and real time news, one can see new ideas on diversity daily. Be willing and open to talk about how you feel and ask questions, so you don’t become misguided by all the information you are seeing.

Meeting others who share our passions and interests

When a group of people get together with a common goal, things can get accomplished. When you find other people that share your thoughts and vision, it helps you feel less alone or thinking that you are the only one who feels that way.

Getting involved in community organization will also help us meet new people from our communities and other cultures. The fact that there is a shared interest, will be a great topic to start getting to know others and learn more about them and the culture they may be from, which may be different from their own.

When meeting new people, be open to what they have to say and what they believe. They may not agree with what you believe, but just be open to communicating and learning.

What can adults do to help?

Sometimes teens will need a little help to see the benefits of learning more about diversity and inclusion and will need the adults in their lives give them a little nudge. It may not be something they will be able to just jump into. How you feel about diversity can also impact how they will react to it.

Check with their school

School is a great place to be around others who are different from us. Find out what programs they are using to help teens with diversity and inclusion.

Listen to your teen for their views

Do your research and figure out how you feel about diversity and be open to talking with your teen or young adult about how they feel about it. This conversation can bring up some very personal feelings from you and them. Help them navigate those feelings so they can feel confident in how they feel about and treat others.

Check out my resource page

I have a list of great resources to check into about diversity and other topics on my teen resources page. Here is a link to it. Selma’s Teen Resource Links

What does diversity mean to you? Please let me know in the comments.

The Way Series is a good choice

Both of the books in The Way Series focus on high school and the challenges teens can face. The Hard Way focuses on peer pressure and Shawn’s Way focuses on bullying. Looking for a couple of reads for your teens this summer? Check these two options out on the books tab of my website, Selma’s Books

Have a great week!

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