I love receiving messages from parents about the impact of Philly & Friends and my book. This one really hit home:
“Love your book. I just bought it for my 4-year-old. A girl at her school said she didn’t want to play with her because she doesn’t like her brown skin. My daughter came home saying she doesn’t like her brown skin, (she has never said this before) but since reading her your book, plus reinforcing how amazing she is, she is back to loving all of herself.”
That little girl is not alone. Hers is one of many stories of little black girls and boys around the world. We must do better. Diverse books and toys aren’t just for kids from minority ethnic groups. They’re for everyone.
Remember: we either fear, hate or accept what we don’t understand. To break the cycle, we need to teach our kids to celebrate difference. We’re not looking for the absence of colour, but a celebration of the variety of colours. So, I want to challenge you to look through your child’s toy box and bookshelf today – or that of your grandchild, niece, nephew or student – and ask yourself: is it diverse?
8 ways to incorporate diversity into your family routines
1) Make your children’s library diverse. Display a sea of colours. Discover the best diverse books for children on Hello Magazine.
2)Buy a wide range of toys for them. Their doll or action figure collection should include a variety of hues.
3) Introduce them to different cultures. You don’t have to be black to learn about Black history – we all learn European and American History at school.
4) Watch diverse TV shows. What characters are in the show? How are they portrayed? We don’t want children only see black kids portrayed as poor and hungry – the reality is so different.
5) Talk to them about race – it is not a dirty topic; it is a fact of life. Teach them about acceptance and tolerance. Teach them that we are all equal.
6) As a parent, carer or family member, acknowledge your own privilege and challenge your subconscious biases and stereotypes.
7) Educate yourself. There’s so much information out there.
8) Follow a diverse range of accounts on social media that promote diversity.
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”