Fighting to Normalize Diversity for Our Children (and a Barefoot Books giveaway!)


In the past few weeks the word "normalizing" has kept itself on my radar, coming at me from various channels that I take seriously.  Normalizing is a social process through which ideas and action come to be seen as normal and taken-for-granted in everyday life.  Extreme examples of would be witch hunts, slavery, and the Holocaust.  Have you ever wondered how on earth the people who lived in those times could be so incredibly immoral?  The answer is normalization.  It's like the old analogy of the frog and the pot of water: if the frog jumps in to already boiling water it will jump right out, but if the water only gradually increases to boiling the frog won't notice. It will stay in there and die.

{I have no earthly idea if that's true or not, but it's a good analogy.}

Sure there are some people in the world whose hearts are hardened and have given themselves over to darkness.  But that's not most of us.  Most people who lived in the times of these historic tragedies  and did nothing were merely products of their time.  You might even say they were victims, in a sense, of normalization.  (It sounds weird to call a privileged group "victims", but if we're talking seared consciences and separation from the heart of God/human experience than yes, they were victims indeed.)

But how does that apply today?

Currently there are many in our country who are hoping and trying to change it's landscape, to the detriment of minorities.  This is not a finger-pointing post at those of you who voted for Donald Trump.  I know you're good people.  But whether or not Trump is a misogynist, racist, and/or xenophile (which we may disagree on), it cannot be denied that these dangerous ideals have been brought out where they were once kept underground.  Like it or not those who hold such ideals feel they have been given a voice in this election.  They are gathering.  They are hoping to expand their influence.  And they want to change the culture of this county.  The alt-right believes that races should not intermingle.  They believe families like mine should not exist.

If the water was already boiling, we would hop out and reject it.  But what if we don't even notice when the temperature rises and the liquid rolls?

I know, this is a real peach of a post.

So what do we do?

We fight.

We fight hate with love.  We fight injustice with action.  We fight segregation with integration.

No matter how we each voted, it is up to us to preserve the spirit of acceptance and diversity that makes America beautiful.  We step it up by diversifying our friendship circles.  We step it up by educating ourselves and then advocating in our communities.  We step it up by calling our local representatives and making our voices heard.  We step it up by being teachable, by listening to the marginalized, and by seeing a need and meeting it.

And for those of us who are raising the next generation, we fight the normalization of racism in our culture by normalizing diversity for our children.

We raise children who will be utterly baffled at the thought of separating human beings based on the color of their skin or the way they worship.  We raise children who see every person they meet as an image-bearer of God.  We raise children unafraid of those who are different than them, whether by physical appearance or by language or by religion.  Not just when they're 3, but when they're 13 and 23 and 73.

And this doesn't just happen because we hope it's going to.  It happens when we're intentional; when we widen our circles to include those who don't look, talk, or worship like us.  

Real-life relationships are far and away the most important factor.  But taking a look at what's inside your home is a small step too.  Moms and dads (and grandparents and other relatives!), be intentional about representing different skin tones and cultures in your kids' toys, games, tv shows, and books.  I wrote a post about some of my favorite book recommendations here, but since then I've discovered Barefoot Books and let me tell you, I'm a customer for life.

Blog reader Elizabeth Walton sent my kids the Book of Children and a Children of the World matching game a few weeks ago, just because she knew I gravitate to that kind of thing.  Both big boys liked both gifts, but for whatever reason Moses (almost 3) has latched on to the book while Alyosha (6) prefers the game.

Barefoot Books has an intentional focus on promoting diversity and inclusivity, while also putting out fabulous content that inspires creativity and curiosity.  Our family loves this company and I think yours will too. (and psssst I hear there might be some sweet Black Friday deals coming!)

And good news!  Elizabeth is generously giving away a free copy of the Barefoot Book of Children to one lucky winner!

I have never seen a book encompass the rich tapestry of humanity the way this one does.  It represents virtually every skin tone, dozens of world cultures, various disabilities, transracial families, military families, foster families, and gay and lesbian families.

(I know this last one is touchy for some, but I personally really appreciated the way it was done. These happy families are depicted in just a few pictures but with no text to boss you around about how to present it. You can address it with your kids in your own way and in your own voice.)

The book is all about our similarities even within our differences.  And I think that's a message we could all use more of these days. Enter the giveaway by simply commenting here or on the FB or Instagram post!  Oh and if you're doing a little Christmas shopping anyway, using the links in this post will send a slice of the pie my way. Thanks in advance!

*I was not financially compensated for this post.  I did receive a complimentary book and game in exchange for my honest review, and links are affiliates. 

Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)