Moving toward MLK’s dream: 5 ways to give your children a rich cultural experience

Today is the 50th celebration of Martin Luther King’s landmark “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, DC. Most of the readers of this blog are white and middle class. As such, we will notice the rally happening there again today, but its significance will be distant.

I can remember my children singing the old song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” “Red and yellow, black and white. They are precious in his sight.” God created all people, and all people carry the image of God. That’s why, today, I propose that a rich cultural experience in childhood is important for the spiritual development of children.

I was fortunate to be raised in a world with many Hispanic and African American friends. Each one added to my understanding of the reality of the world that others live. Not everyone is so blessed. About 95% of my community is white (source), and nearly all are middle to upper middle class. Because of this, my family has had to find other ways to introduce our children to a diversity of God’s people. Here are 5 ways that you can help your children to experience other cultures:

  • Be friends with the minorities in your community. Invite them to share their culture with you. We’ve had Haitian-Italian-Mexican fusion night in our house. The food was wonderful.
  • Spend time in the city nearest to you. You can go as a tourist, or you can serve in a soup kitchen. Make it normal to be in the city.
  • Teach your children another language. Travel to where that language is spoken.
  • Take a short term trip to another country. Leave the tourist areas while you’re there. Is that unsafe? Maybe. You be the judge of how unsafe you will go, but living a life of safety isn’t likely to help your children develop well either. See my post Why safe is not always better.
  • For those with education in their plans, live on campus, if you can. Educational institutions tend to draw people from varied communities and other countries.
  • Move. If you’ve been in your community your whole family life, find a job somewhere else. Make a plan and move. If your company has overseas operations, this may be a great chance to do a couple of years in a completely different culture.

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