Defining Terms – a draft!

Last week I posted a first draft of the diagram below on instagram after seeing some confusion on the internet and in real life over some terms. Some people use these terms interchangeably but they are indeed 3 separate concepts. Would you suggest any changes? Have you found these to be confusing for you or others?

defining-terms-3

I drafted the first version on a napkin and then received some great feedback from other moms on instagram and revised above. Melanie made the insightful comment that the term ‘multicultural’ can apply to people too! (Of course I should have thought to include that important point as it’s literally the name of my blog…!) Jennifer had another great addition that ‘intercultural’ can be between two or more cultures. Thankful for a community of parents to help revise ideas!

As parents we know the words we use for our children matter. Their own identity journey matters greatly. It is ultimately not up to me to say how my children should or will identify (whether in our case as Asian American or Chinese American or Chinese Dutch American or mixed or hapa or some other term I haven’t thought of!) For our family, the most important part of this conversation is that they have positive experiences celebrating and exploring their unique cultural heritage and learning and appreciating other cultures around the world.

I want to end by sharing my friend Katie’s short video about the question she receives the most, “What is your ethnicity?” I relate a lot to her father’s comments to her, “You’re not half of a human being! It makes you 200%!” To which she replies, “that seems a bit dramatic…but…powerful.” I hope and pray my bicultural kids grow up to know they are powerful in small and big ways too! 

Our 4 Favorite Multicultural Kids Shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime

untitled

After writing three kinda serious posts, I wanted to share a fun list of our family’s favorite multicultural kids shows. All are on either Netflix or Amazon Prime Video and I would assume to purchase on iTunes as well. One quick note: I never realized before compiling this list, how many children’s shows are “token diverse” with a white-lead. Shows like Little Einsteins, Ready Jet Go, Super Why, and Strawberry Shortcake all have some diverse characters but the leads are all white!

I would LOVE to hear your child’s favorite multicultural and diverse TV shows in the comments! What do you like? What shows do your kids enjoy?

#1  Justin Time – Netflix (2 seasons plus a 3rd Netflix original version “Justin Time Go!”)  This show is just a gem! It follows a Canadian bountitleday named Justin as he travels back in time with his shape changing pal Squidgy and his imaginary friend Olive. They solve real life problems (like teamwork or sharing) in a different historical setting and then return back home “just in time!” The settings range from Ancient Mexico to 17th century India to the Swiss Alps in the 50s and Ancient China in the 8th century! You might even find yourself watching an episode or two. And at 11 minutes an episode, I don’t even feel bad about agreeing to one more adventure!

#2   Go, Diego, Go! – Amazon Prime & Nickelodeon (8 seasons free with prime) My daughter loves Diego more than Dora; and for a pgo-diego-go-go-diego-go-34420627-1024-768reschooler who loves princesses and pink, I couldn’t understand why. Until I watched it! Go, Diego, Go is a wonderful show that not only talks about different animals around the world, but also their habitats. Diego meets friends all over the world in his job as an ‘animal rescuer’ and they teach a word or two in each language of the country they visit. Also introduces concepts like conservation and protection

#3   Sesame Street – Amazon Prime & PBS (12 seasons available, 5 free with prime) Classic show that’s been a delight to find streamisesame_street_wallpaper_1278413620ng on Amazon Prime and introduce to my children. All episodes reflect a diverse cast (of humans and monsters alike!) and encourage kindness and acceptance. Some fun celebrity guest appearances in the current free seasons include: Season 36, episode 1: Lang Lang, Season 36, episode 9: Maya Angelou, Season 36, episode 12: Alicia Keys, Season 37, episode 12: Trying a new food day

#4   Sid the Science Kid – Netflix (1 season and a movie) While not specifically multicultural or international in theme, I could not pasid-the-science-kidss up sharing with you a wonderful show on Netflix about a very inquisitive multicultural cartoon character. I cannot think of another mixed lead character (although his hair is purple!). According to the wiki about the show, Sid’s mother is of African descent and his father grew up Jewish. Sid’s mixed heritage is not a focus of the show but #representationmatters. Episodes cover basic scientific principles while Sid and his =friends ask questions and solve problems.

**Honorable mention: Ni Hao Kai-Lan (Nickelodeon & Amazon to purchase) Great show very similar to Dora the Explorer but takes place with the Chinese userimagecharacter of Kai-Lan. I would have put it in the above section but it is not a part of a subscription streaming service.

 

4 Ways to Encourage Culturally Aware Preschoolers (ABCDs!)

Earlier this week, I took my 4 year old daughter to preschool and she asked me if I was half Chinese. I started to laugh and said “no, my family came from the Netherlands and Ireland a long time ago, why do you think I’m half Chinese?” She replied, “Because you don’t know all Chinese words like Daddy!” Well she is definitely right about that!

This conversation surprised me and got me thinking about the ways we talk about cultures and language and identity with preschoolers. My husband and I had a great conversation this week about ways we can encourage our daughter and I wanted to share them here. (Since 3 of the 4 started with the first letters of the alphabet, I cheated and made the second one a two word phrase to make a tidy A, B, C, and D list!)  

Has your child surprised you with their comments about culture? How do you encourage your children to be culturally aware? I only have experience up to preschoolers so would love your ideas and suggestions for older children! Please comment or head over to Instagram @multiculturalmama

  1. A – Aware: As you know, preschoolers are sponges and are aware of the world around them in ways that astonish us! My daughter can differentiate customs from her time in Taiwan when she was 2 even now living in the US. Research shows that babies as young as 3 and 6 months old can distinguish faces based on race. Instead of being concerned that our children are not colorblind, we should be aware of their curiosity and invite questions. It’s a great opportunity to teach our children about the things that all humans have in common as well as the beautiful ways we are different!
  2. B – Be intentional about bringing up your family’s cultural heritage. Whether you are in a multicultural family or monocultural family, there are so many wonderful ways to celebrate your family’s cultural heritage. I plan to spend more time on this in future posts but for now one idea is to try to think about ways to celebrate throughout the year, not just at specific holidays. 
  3. C – Connect your child’s interests to other cultures in fun ways. My daughter loves to dance so this summer we went to a wonderful event at our library with Rhythmaya, an Indian dance instruction and performance group. We learned all sorts of dances from South Indian classical dance (which I believe is called Bharatanatyam) and dramatic dance and of course Bollywood! Since then my daughter has been obsessed with “Indian princesses” which is her term for Bollywood dancers! We watch tons of youtube videos and dance with our friends from Bhutan and Afghanistan. My daughter started crying one day that she wasn’t Indian. I told her that the exciting thing about the world is that everyone can share special parts of their country with others!14012383_925532001168_9434698_o
  4. D – Diverse books and media. If you’re reading this blogpost, I don’t have to tell you much about the importance of diverse books. Representation matters. I highly recommend Pragmatic Mom’s vast collection of diverse children’s book lists including: