If Not Colorblindness… Then What?

December 8, 2017

As a leading provider of therapeutic and education services, Momentous Institute focuses on building and repairing social-emotional health — developing kids who become self-regulated, good communicators, problem-solvers, empathetic, grateful, gritty and optimistic.

We’ve talked about how the “colorblindness” approach is not the most helpful way to interact with people of different races and cultures here and here. If you read those posts and are ready to consider a new way of interacting with children, you may be wondering… but what is the best approach?

According to Dr. Monnica Williams, identity can be thought of at three levels: individual, group or universal. Individual is the idea that each person is unique. Group is the idea that we are all members of certain groups, and universal is the idea that we are all human beings. Focusing on universal (“we are all human beings”) and ignoring that each person is unique and belongs to certain groups can be hurtful and dismissive of someone’s culture.

So what do we do with this information?

Adopting a “group” mentality is a sign of multiculturalism. It tells others that we understand that each person is part of their context – each unique and individual, but also defined by the culture and groups of which they identify.

When working with kids, we can adopt a multicultural approach by creating a safe space for discussions around race and culture. Here are three suggestions:

Be open to talking about race and culture.

Don’t shy away from the conversation because it is uncomfortable. It is in these uncomfortable places where we grow and learn about others.

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