Diversity; an opportunity to leap or a seed of tragedy

All of the characters in Disney cartoon movies I enjoyed when I was a kid were all in good shape and kindness, and the villains were like monsters and vicious. These scenes bring unconscious prejudices to young children. This makes children more likely to prefer Barbie dolls with long blonde hair and makes a person appraised only by appearance. This is not the fault of children at all. This is one of the leading cases in which children are unconsciously biased.

People have different thoughts about white people, black people and Asian people. It is formed from your limited experience or from the stories you hear from people around you. When we see the skin color of a person, we are going to treat people with the prejudice of “This kind of people acts like ~” Actions or languages ​​that come from this prejudice are called racial discrimination or racism. It is racism not only to use racist language but also to treat people unequally (For example, black people are more likely to undergo ID testing in areas with high crime rates).  I felt very tired when I realized there were so many kinds of racism in America. This is because Korea, which I have been living in, is composed of a single race and the ratio of foreigners is extremely low. The funny thing is that this tired variety makes us more creative and diligent. In fact, there are several studies that show that the more diversity there is, the better. There are also studies that social mix makes a community better in the housing sector which is my research area. Various income classes and various races/ethnicity can lead to various problems, but it implies that a better society can be achieved by solving the conflicts. Diversity is a seed of tragedy and can be described as an opportunity to leap.

How should we educate children and young people about diversity? Is diversity an unconditional goal to pursue? Pedagogy should also develop. I do not know exactly what kind of education method can make a positive effect. But I will finish by introducing the example that my prejudice has fallen in childhood. I remember the movie Shrek was the first movie to challenge my prejudice. Shrek’s story of a monster-like appearance and timid character showed that anyone could be the protagonist of life, and I realized that I had an unconscious bias. I thought it might be more important to identify the prejudices inherent before creating various experiences.

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6 thoughts on “Diversity; an opportunity to leap or a seed of tragedy

  1. Hi Seungbee ! it was interesting to read about how diversity and inclusion have a different discourse in your country than in the US. Where I am from, ethno-diversity is not a prominent cultural factor. However, there are many other issues at hand that need discussion and active care. Some examples are inclusion of women in all research fields and expertise and enabling people with disabilities to enjoy the same (or as much as possible) the privileges of the able-bodied when studying and in work places.

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  2. This is a very relatable post. The very basic thing to understand is that children grow up. When they do, the seeds that are planted in them in their childhood, grow into a plant. So, the onus is on us, to teach them the correct values and how to be a constructive part of the diverse community. I think you gave a brilliant example of the movie Shrek. There should be many more movies like that and other activities which help in breaking the bias.

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  3. You raise an important question about how we should educate children about diversity? This is something that cannot be answered in a blog post, class, or maybe even in a lifetime. However, it is key to pinpoint things the influence our judgment and be mindful of them. One source of influence is popular culture. For example, movies can portray different groups of people in misleading ways. Being mindful of the influence of popular culture could be a good start to not make any baseless judgments.

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  4. Hi Seungbee, thanks for your post. South Korea is indeed a special case because there is only one race, which is different from my experience because China is a multi-ethnic country and I have many friends of other ethnic groups. I am interested in the experience of two types of people: Chinese Koreans and foreign workers in South Korea. I have read some stories of Chinese Koreans on the Internet saying that they have suffered systematic discrimination in Korean society. Regarding foreigners, if you are white, it is very good; if it is Chinese or Japanese, it is negative but not obvious; if you are black or Southeast Asians such as Filipinos, discrimination is very serious. is this real?

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  5. I enjoyed your post, Seungbee. As you pointed out, I think a primary and major step to understand diversity is to have a good understanding of our own biases and prejudices. Especially, having a self-identification about our unconscious bias by everyone would facilitate bringing the inclusion in the classroom setting by the instructor.

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  6. Hi Seungbee, your use of Disney as a jumping off point for this conversation is a great way to engage the reader informally. One thing I immediately thought of as you described the Disney characters and your question about how to teach children about diversity is why don’t we have movies that better represent our actual societies? Meaning, I grew up in a DC suburb where kids were from India, Ethiopia, Honduras, the Philippines, etc. and we had an international night in elementary school where each student represented their country and brought traditional foods to share. What if our media represented those worlds, or if our protagonists were from multiple lineages? Our media is too simplified to convey the world that we actually occupy.

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