The issues of diversity, equity and social justice permeate in our societies as remnants of the historical experiences of racism, classism, religionism and genderism among many others are deeply rooted in traditions, practices, and systems in our society. These have formed personal, familial and community cultures that come in harmony or conflict with each other. The awareness about these issues comes in different levels – with some cognizant than the others, partially un/conscious, or completely unmindful. Not being able to address these could negatively impact both the advantaged and the disadvantaged. By dwelling mainly on the majority and power cultures strips those who are perceived weak the right to assert their beliefs and practices and become visible in the society. On the other hand, those in the dominant end lose the opportunity to see wider perspectives, and learn from the strengths that others have.
As an early childhood educator, it is my hope that the foundation of injustice, bias and prejudice be uprooted from the system through the education of the young children. Educating them encompasses a culturally relevant and critical pedagogy that would not only respect their cultures, but also sustain the desire to preserve their cultures while incorporating those of others. As well, a curriculum that would help the young child understand the whole picture of diversity as they relate to equity and social justice is liberation from potential oppression. Working with children and their families is a step forward to raise consciousness that could impact their thinking and precepts. These children who would develop an awareness of diversity and equity would be the future adults who could re-shape the systems that are now embedded in our society.
The early childhood field must continue to be vigilant in guarding the signs of bias, prejudice, and injustice in any setting. Anyone involved in the early childhood education must have a self-awareness of ethical practices that would enable them to work effectively with children and families coming from diverse abilities, classes, cultures, and backgrounds. Systems must be in place so that every individual who works for and with children have the knowledge and understanding of what it takes to educate a whole child within his or her context.
Personal stories and insights shared by colleagues have expanded my awareness of diversity, equity, and injustice. The lens shared by many provided a bigger picture of these issues. I was able to see beyond the narrow scope of my perspective. Realizing that although individuals including myself have suffered from different forms of indignities continue to rise from adversity and persist in changing the system that hurts many brings hope that one day, fairness, justice and equity will be fully achieved.
Hyland, N. E. (2010). Social justice in early childhood classrooms: What the research tells us. YC: Young Children, 65(1), 82–87. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/docview/197637742/fulltextPDF?accountid=14872