I have had a variety of experiences in social diversity throughout my life. Early in my childhood I do not remember being surrounded by many different people of color. I grew up in a household that was considered to be democratic and progressive and inclusive of all people. I grew up in the northern suburbs of Minneapolis, to better give you an idea of where I grew up. When I was young there were not many students of color at my school and I don’t remember having any friends of color either. I also don’t remember there being kids with special needs. I am not sure if the elementary school I went to had a special education program at the time or not.
In high school the only program for special education that was at our school was for students with what would be considered to have high needs. And at the time there still were not many students of color at the school and I though myself and my family were nice and kind to all people. I didn’t think it would be possible for me to be considered to be racist. Sometimes as children we don’t realize what we were directly or indirectly taught about people who are different from you (they can be different from you in a variety of ways).
When I graduated high school I moved to northern Florida to attend college and my life changed completely. I didn’t realize how many different people I was going to meet. I didn’t realize that I had racist tendency’s until a friend pointed it out and my world shattered. I felt like an awful person and didn’t understand how it could have happened. I grew up in a progressive home that taught me to be kind to all people no matter what. It turns out that I must have received many messages that taught me otherwise and I would like to pose that I learned some of this from my schooling.
After I realized this I changed programs to anthropology and was determined to learn about racism, social diversity and how and why we learn what we do from our society. I would like to pose that I am now an advocate for social diversity. I work as an Early Childhood Special Education para and fiercely protect my students. I watch for teasing and help students to better understand each other and explain on many occasions that some people are different but it doesn’t make them strange. Some of us need extra help, look a little different, learn in different ways, get around in different ways, and that none of this makes someone strange and not worth knowing.
I now advocate just like the book for special ed students to be included in the classroom as much as possible. My world has changed and keeps changing and I hope as a future teacher I will gain an even greater understanding of what social diversity means and how to advocated for it in my classroom.