Diversity: what’s the point?

I recently participated in a conversation on BAM! Radio entitled “All The Children Are White. So What?”

The main guest was Louise Derman-Sparks, a professor emertius at Pacific Oaks College in California who is a nationally recognized expert on multicultural education. Derman-Sparks has authored or co-authored countless books, including Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young ChildrenTeaching/Learning Anti-Racism: A Developmental Approach and — most relevant to our discussion — “What If All the Kids are White?” Anti-bias/ Multicultural Education with Young Children and Families. Our host was Holly Elissa Bruno.

Among the topics we tried to tackle were:

-Homogenous schools in America: do they really exist?  Where and why?
-Segregation in America: a 21st-century reality?
-Can and should homogenous schools still think about diversity issues? How and why?
-What to say to skeptical teachers, administrators or parents who ask, “Who needs diversity?”
-Why the “tourist” approach to diversity — short-lived, superficial — is problematic

In short, Derman-Sparks and I both argued that diversity enriches rather than diminishes us.

Far from a liability, diversity — in thought, belief and outward appearance, but also in dreams, desires and diversions — is in fact one of our country’s greatest assets.

Justin Snider