A couple of days ago, Betsy Bird wrote a post about children’s books promoting “casual diversity” for her blog on the School Library Journal website. After defining the term – “diversity [that] is just a part of everyday life” – she provides a list of books that “integrate [diversity] into the storyline without a hitch.”
Those statements made me a tad uncomfortable. I worry because diversity isn’t casual.
True casual diversity can only exist in a perfect world. Ideally, people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds would value and appreciate each other, and everyone would recognize that differences are normal. But discrimination, inequality, and intolerance based on ethnicity and culture still exist, as we can see clearly from the banning of Mexican-American Studies classes in Tucson and the unprovoked detention of black shoppers at Barney's in New York. Those are just two high-profile examples of how ethnicity and culture still cause tension every day and everywhere.