Cultural Awareness: Inclusiveness / Diversity
( Third article of a Series by Scott Clift )
As I reflect on my own experiences, it seems as if the words ‘culture’, ‘inclusiveness’, and ‘diversity’ have lost much of their meaning in popular usage, and that very few people engage their real importance. I remember the time a woman told me that she didn’t have culture because she was white. This woman was fairly well educated, lived in one of the suburbs of Minneapolis, and had raised three children.
If culture is so fundamentally involved in understanding ourselves, how can it ever be ignored or minimized? In America we have the blessing-curse of needing to integrate the diversity of cultures that we all represent. This blessing allows us to become more aware of ourselves and develop a greater security in that awareness. This curse means that in developing integrated systems and services, we will often encounter conflicts and disparities that stem from very deep places within us.
Elements of race and ethnicity play significant roles in everyone’s culture. This biological aspect of us unfortunately frequently determines what opportunities are available, what labels are attached to us, and the level of success we will achieve. The Children’s Defense Fund recently released a study showing the disparities that exist for children in Minnesota based on race, and with the demographics of Minnesota increasing in ethnic diversity, learning about ourselves and others in appropriate, respectful, and yes, even sensitive ways, has never been more important. But make no mistake—this is not merely about the color of skin. The issue at hand is that we learn ways to interact with each other as a society that respects and celebrates who we are and the ways we live our lives. We cannot do this unless we know our own culture, the important and often subtle ways our background and nurture play out in our own lives.
Through trainings and workshops, the Cultural Dynamics Education Project of Minnesota seeks to journey with providers in this process. Cultural Dynamics trainings offer providers, parents, and community members the chance to explore together the meaning of culture in their own lives, how culture is passed on, and what role we as adults play in the formation of children’s attitudes and behavior. While the trainings can often be intense as they tap into many of the attitudes, values, and behaviors we may take for granted, they are designed to assist participants in exploring how to create settings and environments that empower children to lead healthy lives in our diverse and changing world.
Educarer.org is grateful that our Cultural Awareness Series has received permission to display the artwork shown above and elsewhere in this Series. To see the complete display of the building's artwork visit the ECRC website at www.ecrc1.org.
Muralist/Director: Marilyn Lindstrom
Youth: Natchez Beaulieu, Constanza Carballo, Jose Curbelo, Adonijah Espinosa, Adrian Garza, Justin Kampinen, Warith Muhammad, Shani Nestingen, Nathan Pundt, Brett Stately, Aerin Vanhala, Dylan Wolking
Mentors: Carlos Menchaca and Mali Kouanchao
Youthworks/Americorps: Richard Garfield and Rachel Rendon
Guest Artist: Chris Darsow
Cultural Dynamics Education Project (CDEP)
Question We Are
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Inclusiveness / Diversity
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