From my pulpit I preach the power of diversity, my belief that key to understanding is exposure to other cultures, religions, ages and hair colors. Learning Spanish teaches Mary and Kate much more than a second language; they now understand that not everyone speaks English. And hopefully their definition of normal expands to include people who don’t look and sound exactly as they do.
This year, in reviewing the guest list for our annual holiday party, I noticed that the vast majority of the names belonged to heterosexual friends with white faces who speak English. My friend Roderick, one of the few brown faces in the crowd, pointed this out to me soon after he arrived. Reluctantly I admitted that yes, I had noticed the white face majority but was unsure as to just what to do. Do I spend the year affirmative actioning my guest list?
My small gaggle of girlfriends is just the same. Not only are we all white, we come from similar socio-economic backgrounds, we are all college educated, children of the suburbs who continue on with the life created by our families. And just to make us even more homogeneous, three are named Lisa. Not an Ethel in the bunch, Lisa Lisa Lisa.
As we consider schools we look for one that is actually diverse, not all white, all black, all brown or all green. Mary and Kate eat food from Vietnam, have shoes from China and know that women in India wear saris. Some families have two dads, or moms; some children speak Spanish, or French; some people live in the country, some in the suburbs, and some in the city. They are insulated from fast food, bad television, racism and princess stories. They don't know that some children actually eat lollipops or that Disneyland exists, but the small world we can expose them to in Chicago is all theirs to explore, and the world beyond when we once again brave the friendly skies.
But if I believe so strongly in the power of multi-culturalism, in the vibrancy of color, why is my holiday party so beige?