Remember when you were a kid and thought dandelions where the most beautiful flower and you picked all of them in your yard and then proudly held them up in your clutched sweaty little hand as a gift to your mom? At some point in adulthood, probably when we first started caring for a lawn of our very own, those bright yellow blooms became the bane of our existence. That dime sized blister on my thumb is the result of digging those invasive plants out of the vegetable garden. I've seen Josephine eat them. In fact she dragged half of the ones I pulled from the garden off into the yard to chew on while I worked. As I tugged and pulled each dandelion plant free, I thought "I used to love these. I used to think these bright yellow flowers where stunning."
It is a wonder how perceptions change with age. When the Cabbage was in pre-school, Michael asked her if she had any black kids in her class. He wanted to make sure that she was in a class of diversity. The Cabbage looked at him oddly and said "Black kids?!? Kids aren't black!" She didn't know about the terms we adults have created to describe skin that is not white. Michael, not wanting to mess up anything, just said "OK" and left it at that. He realized that kids don't see color the way adults do. They recognize that there are different skin colors but they haven't been told about ethnicities or about stereotypes. They learn those things. From grownups. Eventually the Cabbage will notice that the color of her skin will afford her a certain sort of privilege. I would have hoped that we would have fixed the privilege of skin color before that happened, but it doesn't look like that's the case.
iBiology recently posted a video series on Mentor Training to Improve Diversity in Science. I watched it because I thought it would be important and educational for me to watch. I thought I might learn how to talk about diversity and race with confidence or without the worry of offending someone. I also wanted to hear if they addressed the lack of young African American women in science. I see this here and I wonder how to fix it. They don't really address that, but they do talk about how important diversity is to making scientific discoveries. This is not a message I needed to learn, but it was one I was happy to hear because I don't think it is said often enough. It's the reason why I shared the video to Facebook. The messages presented by Dr. Angela Byars-Winston and Dr. Sandra Crouse Quinn are messages that applies universally, not just in the field of science.
Let's say there's a committee of people put together to solve a specific problem regarding the whole country. The committee consists of ten people. All of them are men. All of them are very very wealthy. All of them are white. How effective do you think they will be in solving a problem that affects all of us (white, black, hispanic, middle class, female, LGBQT, farmer, working class) in a way that is helpful to all of us? Wait...that's pretty much the situation we have now. Bad example. I'm saying that having a diverse group allows that group to approach questions to a problem in a more effective way because we all add something unique to the table.
It's not about not seeing color. Not at all. It's about embracing color and recognizing the beauty and strengths in having a diverse society. It's about being respectful without expectations. Treating others the way you would want to be treated.