More than 100 persons attended the first session on navigating diversity.

A four-part series, “Navigating Real Life Diversity with Our Kids,” began with its first session on Oct. 7 in the Evanston Public Library’s Large Meeting Room. More than 100 people packed the room to hear Elizabeth “Biz” Lindsay-Ryan discuss how kids think and talk about differences they encounter; and she offered many suggestions on how to talk to kids about race, culture, gender and other differences.

Ms. Lindsay-Ryan encouraged parents not to shut off conversations with their children about race and diversity. “How many of you have fixed a problem without talking about it,” she said. “We have to talk about it, be specific and be developmentally appropriate.”

She said these should not be one-time conversations, but continuing and evolving as kids grow older.

Ms. Lindsay-Ryan also discussed “privilege” and “white privilege” which she described as “unearned perks” that some people enjoy, often at the “expense of someone else;” and she explored bias by asking the group to think about how they would fill in the blanks of a story she told. Her two-hour presentation was interspersed with several small group discussions in which those in attendance could explore these issues on a more personal level.

“We should want something far greater than tolerance in the schools,” she said, adding, “We talk a lot about diversity, but we don’t talk enough about inclusion.” She said parents should talk to their children on how to be an “ally” of inclusion and to stand up when they see inequality.

Ms. Lindsay-Ryan will also facilitate the second session of the series. Because of the overwhelming response at the first session, the second session will be offered on two dates, Nov. 4 and 11, each at 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Evanston Public Library, Community Meeting Room. At this next session she will continue to help community members work through real-life, everyday scenarios on race, culture and gender. Ms. Lindsay-Ryan is a diversity professor, trainer and consultant and parent to children at Cherry Preschool and Dawes Elementary School.

The winter sessions are scheduled for Feb.18 and March 18, led by Dr. Gilo Kwesi Logan, an internationally recognized diversity consultant, educator, writer and speaker and parent to children at Haven Middle School.
The series on diversity is sponsored by the Evanston/Skokie PTA Council, Family Focus, YWCA Evanston/North Shore, Evanston Public Library, and Youth Organizations Umbrella (Y.O.U.).

Childcare and Spanish translation will be provided at the next sessions, which are open to the public and are free of charge.