Practicing diversity, equity and inclusion -- or DEI -- has become commonplace for many people and industries across the U.S. as society responds to increasingly public outcries against racism.
But, as a parent, how exactly do you explain those concepts to your children? One local family is setting a great example.
“So, Kody, tell me what does DEI stand for?” asked Evrod Cassimy.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion,” Kody Moore said. “Diversity means a bunch of different people and cultures from walks of life joining in together. Equity means everyone having the same opportunity to do something. Inclusion means everybody feeling included and being included.”
He’s just 11 years old, but Moore is already learning why we keep hearing the three letters DEI, and what they mean. His mother and father have made it a point to teach their son to treat everyone equally.
“They’re people just like me,” Moore said. “I don’t have to treat them like they’re super special, or somebody that’s nothing. I just treat them like they’re people.”
“... Since we live in Birmingham, I wanted to make sure that Kody understood that,” said mother Teresa Creggett-Moore. “He is and was always the only African-American child in his classes since preschool.”
Related: Racial diversity in children’s books grows, but slowly
For Stefen Welch, a divisional vice president of DEI for a major company in the fashion and retail industry, the practice is not just a job for him; it’s his life.
“It’s my livelihood. It’s my life, and so I breathe this work,” Welch said. “I tell people all the time: ‘You can’t do this work and shut it off at the end of the day. It has to be a lifestyle.’”
As a father of a young daughter himself, Welch encourages parents to begin talking to their children at any age about accepting differences in people. It’s a conversation he and his wife are having with their daughter, Aria, who’s only 5 years old.
“She talked about someone being different. We had a great conversation about that, and I said, ‘Hey, just because someone is different, it doesn’t mean that they are not a nice person. Just because someone is different, it doesn’t mean they don’t have certain things in common with you,’” Welch said. “We’re extremely intentional with the books we read to her, with the representation she has in our house to even her dentist.”
Part of explaining DEI to your kids and celebrating differences among people also includes celebrating what makes them special, specifically.
Most importantly, Moore says to: “Just be yourself and don’t worry about what other people say about you.”
Creggett-Moore is happy to know that her son gets the message.
“It makes me proud. It makes me know that not only did I do a good job, his father did a good job, my mother did a good job,” she said.
Welch also added that a simple way to break down DEI for your children is to focus on the premise: respecting others.
Related: Teachers reimagine US history lessons with eye on diversity