After many fits and starts, summer has finally arrived. My eldest daughter has discovered a love for chocolate sprinkles. She used to only eat rainbow sprinkles, but she has expanded her palate. Today, I’d like to encourage you to expand your own and your children’s palates as well Today, I challenge you to Be The Sprinkle.
What do I mean? Well, usually when talk of diversity comes up, the speakers are referring to a sprinkling of people of color throughout a sea of white people, like sprinkles on an ice cream cone. The people in the majority see those sprinkles, expect those people of color to think, speak and behave just like they do, and check off the diversity box. Done.
While I don’t poo poo the real benefits of that kind of diversity, being the sprinkle requires a real stretch for folks who are usually in the majority, be it religious, political, racial, sexual orientation, or other majority.
This puts me in mind of a memory from college. I went to a small, historically white (see what I did there?) New England college. One day in the dining hall, I invited a few of my white friends to a party hosted by the black students’ association. They were a little taken aback. While they wanted to attend, they were concerned. Would they stick out? Would they be the only white people there? Would they feel uncomfortable? I just looked around the dining hall and replied, “Do I feel uncomfortable here everyday? Just come. You’re welcome and no one will be paying much attention to you anyway.”
So how can you practically Be The Sprinkle? Try adding a small twist to the things you would have already done. Joining the scouts? Find a troop that is made up a different ethnicity than yours. Signing up for a dance class? Look for something outside of the typical ballet/tap box and look for ethnic dance classes. For instance, I think Indian classical dance is gorgeous. It’s incredibly precise and controlled, yet animated and every gesture, every glance, has deep meaning.
For adults and kids, try African dance classes. There is usually a live drummer and the teacher will be able to tell you what the different movements mean. Be forewarned that you will hurt in muscles you didn’t know you had, but it’s an incredible workout.
On the weekends, seek out a festival or fair that celebrates a specific culture. Here in Atlanta, there are Middle Eastern, Japanese, Caribbean and Korean fairs, just to name a few. Everyone is welcome to experience different food and cultural performances.
What is the practical use of learning a traditional dance from a different ethnicity? Well, what’s the practical use of many of the activities we put our children in? We put them in circus camp even though they won’t be joining Cirque de Soleil and archery lessons even though the chances are quite slim that they will have to fell a buck for dinner. It’s a new experience. They meet new friends and increase their social skills. In dance, they’ll learn pose, rhythm and get a deeper view into another culture. If you’ve chosen swim classes, scouting, or another activity where the content won’t be different, that’s great. Being able to appreciate people in all their difference and similarities is a beautiful thing.
I can’t predict your comfort level as The Sprinkle, but I can give two words of advice. Relax and Follow. Of course you are a leader in everything else you do and I respect that. However, the experience of being The Sprinkle often means being an astute observer. When you and your experiences aren’t necessarily the norm, you can relax, observe and allow yourself to be humble and be led by the people who are running the show. It’s really a load off from leading all of the time.
I am dedicated to convenience, so I am not The Sprinkle in everything I do, but just being cognizant of experiencing and appreciating other cultures helps me and my family to do more. So in the next few months, try to Be The Sprinkle at least once and see what happens.
Leave us a comment and provide encouragement and advice to other families who are walking this road as well.