Last year both of my littles had started school and started to hear about “Elf on a Shelf.” I decided to embrace something similar with Kindness Elves. Going online, I found a pack of four really cute elves. They had yellow hair, blue eyes, bright green and red Christmas outfits, and they were both girls and boys. The littles loved them and loved having them with us for the holidays.
About halfway through the holidays, my oldest son asked me why all our elves were white? It threw me, because well, we are white. It had never occurred to me to look for elves that were not white.
I then had to analyze why I had not looked for elves that were multicultural? I had included both male and female genders. Why did I not make sure to include different races/colors? We have cousins that are black and brown. Still, I had not made sure to offer diverse-colored elves.
I told him that I did not know and asked why he was wondering. He said it was because some of his family and friends as school had much darker hair and skin then him. My son wondered why the elves weren’t multicolored like the people around him.
He was right. I had not thought to be inclusive of other colors, just genders. I had been proactive on breaking down gender barriers, but I had forgotten inclusion of multi colors and races are also important.
Why Diversity is Important
Why is it important to be inclusive in an age where many profess color blindness? Because that is not reality. Children absolutely notice physical differences. They notice differences in skin color, hair texture, styles, eye shape and color etc. They are not blind.
I do not want my children to be blind, but to understand that these differences are just physical. Children should understand that color differences are not linked to differences in worth or make people less or more then. Just different physically. People should embrace diversity and color differences.
I had forgotten that Diversity matters. Often we do not see dark skinned or mixed families on TV shows, movies, commercials, advertisements, pamphlets, etc. Black elves are not prominent like white elves on Amazon. Darker elves were not as prominent as they are or should be in our diverse communities. I never had to worry about finding a white elf that looks like my son, but that might not be the case for all colors.
The worst part is that I have studied and teach race and representation in the US. I know how important it is to include and represent people outside of the dominant race. History demonstrates how marginalized many other cultures and colors have felt and experienced in this country.
My little’s schools are very mixed racially and not predominantly white. Most of his friends are brown, black, and from varying cultures. Because that is his norm, my son questioned the four all white elves. His question made me ponder what I could do to be more diverse color wise and not just across genders.
Issues Finding Diverse Elves
I looked online, putting in brown and black elves. Some options were available, but they were not prominent and not many. I had to specify nonwhite for other colors to show up as white was the norm.
Lucky for me, I went to my local dollar store and not only found darker elves, but also depictions of Black Santa. I bought them all to demonstrate that the ideas of Santa and his kindness elves were multicolored and not just white.
I know that usually people want to buy dolls and such that are representative of their own cultures, colors, and ethnicities. However, people should push past that norm to demonstrate that diversity should be celebrated and embraced. That diversity is normal so we can relate beyond our own norms.
My sons now have multicolored elves who look like them, friends, family, and the diversity in our community. The multicolored elves will help teach them how to spread kindness. Afterall, kindness is not black nor white. It is diverse. How does your family celebrate or explore diversity?