Gina Humber M.ED, is all about the “I” in Diversity. It should matter to everyone. She is an educator, nationwide speaker and author of “It’s All Good– A children’s book that helps build self acceptance and esteem in children who look different or feel different in a world that minimizes people to categories and biases.” As the Founder of Diversity is a Verb, LLC she is putting the topic on the table and creating a platform for teachers, parents and children to embrace , accept and respect differences, along with recognizing their own value and realize that we all have so much in common and so much to learn from the people and situations that may not fall into our “standard” mindsets.
Tell us about why you chose teaching and how long you have been an Educator. Funny, thing… I think teaching chose me. I was brought up in a home where academics were key, and we were always educating one another, it was like a game. What I didn’t know I researched and passed the info on, still doing it to this day. I have been teaching for over fifteen years for the NYC BOE.
Do you find it rewarding even now? I do, because I figured out how to maneuver the system to benefit myself and my students, and to help empower parents and communities, and that is rewarding! I had to learn to develop myself outside of school, and I did with my children’s book IT’S ALL GOOD- A Book About Self-Acceptance and Diversity. That is what saved me, along with the work we are doing within my company.
What has been one of the biggest hurdles with school systems as a whole as you see it over the years? In my humble opinion, one of the hurdles is… The school system has its participation in systemic racism. Instead of being at the forefront of eradicating racial bias and prejudices, schools continue to resume practice as usually. Disagree? Look at statistics as it relates to who get suspended more, look at the differences in schools based on ethnic and economic differences, look at how teachers are not taught cultural sensitivity, although they are programs that offer how to eliminate such practices, such as my company. And where is the diversity in hiring practices or books or in contracts… I could go on and on. It’s funny, but that hurdle alone would change the world dramatically!
You have been hired to prepare a presentation for Trump Campaign employees and Donald Trump himself about your diversity. I can’t answer that lol, you have dumbfounded me, and for this purpose: to begin the discussion of diversity, which leads to equity, involves those who are looking for solutions, those who realize the importance of the whole of a nation. His inept ability to understand anyone other than himself, leaves the presentation thwarted.
Having a positive Self-image is a big deal with youth and often shapes the adult they will become. Every child wants to be ENOUGH. While we focus on girls, tell us in general what can parents do at home to instill a positive self-image as well as respect for what’s different than them. Some suggestions that parents can do to instill a positive self-image is to expose your child to different activities in the norm and out of the norm. Allow them to find their way by creating opportunities where they can be challenged mentally, physically or emotionally and allow them to grow from the experience. For example, when my children were young, they did: fencing, tennis, survival camping and bowling. No, they didn’t care for a lot of it, but they got to learn about themselves, and what it takes to persevere. And nothing does more than build positive self-images than believing in yourself and having others believe in you too.
I am big on diversity #diversityisaverb (my # on twitter) so I truly believe we must purpose opportunities where we learn about ourselves culturally and at the same time learn others. I took my students to see African American dance companies as well as Asian dance companies, and the discussions we had were amazing! The respect we can build up in our culture and others, if only we reached past the uncomfortable. Now… we were, the only African Americans there, lol but we were honored by the dance troupe so much that they allowed us backstage, and we learned similar styles of dance between the cultures. Fear can be debilitating, this is what this country uses to separate us, it’s time our children and students, see fear for what it is and combat it with acceptance and respect, which furthers our own self-identity.
Tell us where race and education can “collide and divide” and what you think needs to happen to bridge the gap? Unfortunately, I don’t see a collide, yes there are small moments where we can collide without smashing, but until the real discussions of racism and all the isms play out, we will dance around the issues…getting small scraps here and there. I propose we go back to resurrecting Freedom Schools, and looking at the schools modeled by the Black Panther Party.
Until we have knowledge of self, we will always be chasing our own tail. Believing in the construct designed for us to fail each other and our communities. This is not meant to say, they aren’t schools doing just that, but we need so much more, so that our passion for education is the same as us on FB sharing the dancing dog clips. Somehow the cruelty of this world has caused us to be desensitized and foolish is now entertaining; it’s time to wake up.
A child is enrolled in new school, the best in the area but does not see anyone who looks like them there. They have a miserable first day feeling separated and request to go back to public school. That’s when the parents have a discussion with the school’s team and discuss ways on how the school system is to make the child feel comfortable. Because it’s the school’s responsibility is to provide him with a free and appropriate education, the onus is on the school. I would document all attempts that were failed and were successful, and take the time to push the school in creating a plan. Lawyers can be affective in this area, along with school/community groups.
What do you want parents to know that you find they often don’t get about diversity? That it’s not only about race. I can’t tell you how many parents will argue me down that their child is not a racist, but sitting in the principal’s office because he called someone fat. All it says is that you aren’t willing to see past your own fears, and you have perpetuated them, on your child. So he might not say the “N” word, because he has African American friends, but he will call gay students outside their name. It’s all linked together; it is the structuring of our minds…to have someone on the bottom, as long as it isn’t me.
I would also like parents to know, that European Americans should be the main group purchasing my children’s book focusing on diversity. And until they are my main consumer, I will scream to the hilltops, the problem with America’s fear of diversity…is that European Americans have failed to get in the conversation due to their fears…and the fear of being on the bottom, is subjected for others, not them. Until, they understand, what any one of us wants, is equity, on our own merit, without you destroying our need to live, prosper and bearing the basics of human rights…those fearful will continue to live in the illusion that your prosperity is based on the destruction of the humanity of others. And that is what the fight is now, politically, socially, and economically…lines are being drawn and images are crumbling. We are in the fight for humanity!
Teachers? I would like teachers to know, if you have any issues with diversity: race, religion, gender, etc. please do two things, either address it…because you are subliminally passing that on to your students whether intentional or unintentional, and they are programs to help aid your perspectives and help you to create a new dialogue in your head about those not like you or your experiences, with positive or unmarginalized thoughts of others Or get out of teaching…it’s not your calling.
Tell us about your book as well as how it can be used? My children’s book, IT’S ALL GOOD- A Book About Self-Acceptance and Diversity. It’s All Good is a literary platform intended for parents, caregivers and teachers to begin to introduce young children to healthy ideas regarding self-image. This book is also for children/students who are struggling with negative self-images, which is reflected onto their family and peers. It’s All Good allows parents, caregivers and teachers to use this as a tool, to promote positive discussions. Allowing children to explore and see their self-worth and value. Challenging the norms, if there are any?
Use this book as an engine to drive out old patterns and mindsets about those with dis-abilities, physical ethnic characteristics, and those of different sizes/shapes. “It’s All Good” is to be used to build up positive self-images, fostering a global community who appreciates and respects differences, while at the same time finding and rejoicing in our commonalities.
Get your Kindle copy today! http://amzn.to/298aedx
A teacher notices a child say they do not want to play with another student because they are in a wheelchair. That’s when the teacher brings in books, (if they aren’t already available, which there probably not) video and other medias that help begin to aid in the conversation about real diversity, and real diversity is not only about ethnicities, but gender, religion, body shape and more. The teacher using purposed lessons to broaden discussions beyond the classroom, the school, staff and at home. Understanding prejudices for one, includes us all, who fall outside of the construct of the norm. A great teacher makes this a teachable moment, not just for her students but the teacher as well. You see… real learning can occur when we stop this cookie cutter approach to life, and make assumptions about what is right or wrong based on limited perceptions and experiences. We can grow when we have accepted there are no norms.
How can schools or organizations reach out to you? We would love them to check out our site @ Ginahumber.com, email us @ firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with our family of parents and orgs @ Gina Humber Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!
Anything to add? I wish to personally thank you, for the opportunity to share my word, my work and my mission…It is the common hearts of others connecting that keeps me going, I appreciate the love.
One of Gina’s suggested lecture topics on her website is “How to start discussions about ethnicity and diversity.” CWM asked her , when given specific scenarios, to summarize how she would initiate or handle an honest and open dialogue . You see those featured answers in this article and highlighted in orange. What catalyst /event caused your last discussion about diversity? Share in the comments below.
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