A Kids Book About: The Podcast

Charnaie Talks About Diversity

Episode Summary

Charnaie Gordon, author of A Kids Book About Diversity, talks about how we can embrace diversity by making sure everyone is included and that our differences are celebrated.

Episode Notes

Charnaie Gordon, author of A Kids Book About Diversity, talks about how we can embrace diversity by making sure everyone is included and that our differences are celebrated. 

A Kids Book About Diversity (view book)

Full Book Description:

Diversity is what makes the world such a beautiful and interesting place. When you open your life to it, you learn to respect and celebrate those differences that make everyone special— including your own. This book was made to help kids understand what diversity is and how to actively embrace diversity in every aspect of their lives.

About the Author:

Charnaie Gordon is a Diversity and Inclusion expert, blogger, podcast host, and digital creator.  She also serves as a member of the National Advisory Board for Reading is Fundamental for their Race, Equity, and Inclusion (REI) initiative. Find her online at hereweeread.com and @hereweeread on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

*If you want to be on a future episode of A Kids Book About: The Podcast or if you have a question you’d like us to consider, have a grownup email us at listen@akidspodcastabout.com and we’ll send you the details.

Episode Transcription

A Kids Book About: The Podcast

S1 E020, Charnaie Talks About Diversity


Ari: What is diversity?

Layla: I think diversity is multiple religions or races.

Charnaie: I think diversity, when you look at it is the, what. There's all of these things mixed up. When you say the word diverse or diversity, it's such a broad spectrum of a combination of a lot of different things. 


Ari: Welcome to A Kids Book About: The Podcast! I’m Ari, and I’m your host this week. The voices you heard at the top of our show were from Layla and Charnaie. 

Each week we talk about the big things going on in your world with a different author from our A Kids Book About series.

Charnaie: My name is Charnaie Gordon. My pronouns are she, her and hers. And I am the author of A Kids Book About Diversity.

Ari: When we talk about diversity today, we’re talking about the varieties of differences that people have in a community. In her book Charnaie writes, “Diversity is everything that makes you, you! Age, race, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, ability/disability, socioeconomic status, political views or beliefs and so much more!”

When we talk about socioeconomic status, we’re talking about where you stand in society based on things like your wealth, your schooling, or your job.

When we say abilities and disabilities, we’re talking about both physical abilities—like how some people can easily run and how others at times might use a cane or a wheelchair to get from place to place—and disabilities that affect people’s health or emotions or body in ways we can’t easily see. 

And sexuality here refers to how people experience attraction.

Charnaie: I think a lot of people, when they think of diversity, they're thinking of skin color or different cultures.

Right. But it's, it's so much more than that.

Ari: Think about where you live, where you go to school, where you go to play. What kinds of diversity do you see? 

Charnaie: I've always noticed that some people look like me. Some people look like different than me.

I think I've just always really been aware of it in some sort of way and have always really embraced it because that's what I grew up knowing. It wasn't something that I had to get used to. That was my reality as a child.

Ari: A really important part of diversity is making sure that all people, regardless of our differences, feel welcomed. That’s where a new word comes in: inclusion, the feeling of being welcomed amid diversity.

Charnaie: If we, if we kind of envision a really, truly diverse world, if you will, that's talking about all different types of people, right? People with different socioeconomic backgrounds, people with different gender identities, people with different uh, physical abilities and disabilities, different sexuality, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. 

But then when we're talking about inclusion, I think that is just saying that everybody should be represented and everyone has an equal chance to participate and to be heard. So if you kind of think about it in a way, I think I heard somebody describe diversity and inclusion before as kind of like baking a cake. Right? So diversity is all of the ingredients that you need to make this cake. And then once you mix the ingredients all together, that's inclusion. Right?

Diversity is kind of like the “what” and inclusion is the “how”. Combining all of these things together, you end up with this beautiful and hopefully delicious cake in the end that you can, you know, enjoy. But I think that's really an easy way to think about diversity and inclusion. 

I think they're, they're often used in the same sentence or in the same phrase together because they are similar in a lot of ways.

But I think inclusion is just really just making sure that everyone has a voice, everyone can be included, and that diversity piece of it is saying, “Okay, well, who are these people who needs to be included? Whose voices do we need to hear from?”

Ari: Asking those questions is a really big step towards embracing diversity in our lives and seeing inclusion in action. You can use your voice and your actions to make sure other people feel welcomed. 

I want you to take a moment to consider living in a community where everyone has the same skin tone, or believes the same things, or is interested in the same things as you. You may already live in a community where you feel like most people are the exact same. Being different in a community where everyone else feels the same can be really difficult. That's why feeling included is so important.

I want you to think about this, and then ask yourself, how does being included in a diverse world make you feel?

Layla: I like diversity! Everyone should be treated the same no matter what their religion or race is. 

Charnaie: It makes me feel joyful, really joyful and happy. Like that is the world that I envision for my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, you know, all of that. And that is, that is, that is the ultimate hope. And the ultimate goal.

Ari: We’ll be back in just a moment with Charnaie, and we’ll hear a question submitted by a listener just like you.


Ari: Welcome back to A Kids Book About: The Podcast. On today’s episode we’re talking about diversity with A Kids Book About author Charnaie Gordon. 

No. Today we are putting time aside to celebrate and to embrace what it means to live in and share a diverse world.

Charnaie: The world is going to continue to get more and more diverse as we keep going. So why not embrace it for what it is?

This is our world. This is our world. This is our reality, and it's not changing. You know, we're, we're only gonna continue to see more and more diversity as, as we continue to evolve. And so that's why I think it's important. We need to just celebrate this world that we live in, celebrate the people in it, showcase them and, you know, just embrace, embrace that world.

But also, you know, we want to, to feel good about ourselves too. And that's why it's important to continue to see yourself reflected in all sorts of types of media. 

Ari: There’s something so special that can change how you look at the world and your whole life, when you can see yourself reflected in a book, or on TV, or in the heroes who we all look up to. The word for this is “representation,” and it’s another way we celebrate diversity.

Charnaie told me about how her life was impacted as a kid after seeing herself represented on TV. 

Charnaie: That moment when the Oprah Winfrey show first came on, it was a show that came on every day, Monday through Friday at 4:00 PM in my time zone where I lived and came home from school. And that was the first thing I wanted to watch.

It was I'd run upstairs and my Nana, she would already be watching the TV on that channel. And so once four o'clock came on came around I was glued to the TV watching Oprah Winfrey. 

And I remember that those moments so vividly because she was the only, from what I can remember, person of color, who, who looked like me, who was doing things that I could imagine myself doing someday. She wasn't a, an athlete, right? Um, cause we saw, oh, you know, I was watched like a lot of basketball growing up too, or just, you know, a lot of sports. So she wasn't, uh, in the entertainment industry, like as far as like being a singer or a rapper, she just was a professional Black woman, and I was just in awe of her and I still am today. I still am. But I think for me, that was just so powerful watching the Oprah Winfrey Show for the 20 years that it was on TV is because I saw this woman who, who looked like myself just continue to elevate, continue to inspire just generations of different women, myself included.

But I think that's just so powerful for other people to see, especially people that look like me, that to know that they can potentially do these things too. Right. Um, even if they don't have a ton of money and a ton of fame, like Oprah, It's possible.

And it's so funny. I never thought I always, it was always on my bucket list to write a book someday and to be an author. Right. Even if I just did one book that was always my goal or, or on my bucket list of things that I wanted to do, but I thought that I would be doing this much later in life and I never envisioned writing children's books.

So it's just funny how everything kind of came full circle for me in that way.

Ari: Charnaie shared with me how she got the opportunity to share her voice with us as an author. 

Charnaie: I was actually approached via Jelani Memory on Instagram. He just sent me a direct message and said, Hey, do you want to write A Kids Book About Diversity? And I was like, “Sure, why not?” And that's, that's literally how it happened. Um, but I love the A Kids Book About company, the mission and the goals and where the company is headed.

I think you guys are doing some amazing things and I'm just so excited and happy and proud to be a small part of that family. And to introduce everyone to A Kids Book About Diversity, really excited. And I can't wait for people to read it.


Ari: Layla, in Maryland had a question about today’s topic.

Layla: I mean, why would someone not want diversity?

Ari: Layla, that is such a good question! And also a difficult question. For me, and Charnaie, and maybe you too, diversity seems so obvious—so important and good. It’s hard to understand why anybody would not want to live in a space that values diversity. 

So I reached out to Charnaie and asked her what it looks like to celebrate our differences and to celebrate diversity.

Charnaie: I know for myself, I'm just going to continue doing what I've been doing since I started doing this work, right. Continue to talk about the, the issues that are facing our world and our young people. Continue to talk about and have these tough conversations about things like race and racism, oppression.

I think just continuing to speak up and speak out is, is really what, what we need to keep doing in order to hopefully invoke change and try to start changing some of these narratives and. Some of the issues that we're facing in the world today. It's just a constant, ongoing conversation that just needs to keep happening and happening.

It doesn't stop when there's a guilty verdict in a trial, it doesn't stop when people, you know, go to jail for, for things that they have done. It, the work doesn't stop. And I think that's really, the message is just like, we have to keep fighting. 

We have to keep going. We have to keep embracing other people that may look or act differently than us. 

We just have to get back to kindness and keeping our mouth closed when, when we may not necessarily have the kindest things to say, right.

Or it's, it's not, it's just making a choice to not tear somebody down, not continuing to tear people down on purpose.

Ari: It can take a lot of work to practice kindness and to fight for diversity, to ask those questions, and even more to fight for space so you have an equal chance and voice too. But it means that we’re making the world better for everyone. 

Charnaie: I look at some of the younger children from generation, the present day generation, and I feel hopeful when I, when I look at them or when I hear from them. And when I see them. Raising their voices to be heard. And just speaking up is just so empowering and it makes me happy to watch them in action and, and hope that that is what our future will look like or their future will look like. 

Just for the whole betterment of the world, I think, but it's, it's, we're, we're not we're we're way. We're so far away, I think from that of having this harmonious world and environment where everybody gets along and there's no more fighting, right. We've been, we've been fighting. We've been in this fight for centuries and while it has gotten better in a lot of ways, in a lot of ways that it hasn't. So there's always so much work to do, but envisioning that and thinking about that does make me joyful and fills me with lots of hope.


Ari: Thank you to Charnaie Gordon, author of A Kids Book About Diversity, for joining us today. And thanks to our very special kid voice for helping make this episode what it is.

Layla: Hi my name is Layla. I’m 10 years old and I Iive in Maryland. Uh my favorite thing is my, well my cat. 

Ari: Thank you, Layla! If you want to be on a future episode of A Kids Book About: The Podcast or if you have a question you’d like us to consider, have a grownup email us at listen@akidspodcastabout.com and we’ll send you the details. 

A Kids Book About: the Podcast is written, edited, and produced by Matthew Winner, with help from Chad Michael Snavely and the team at Sound On Studios. Our executive producer is Jelani Memory. And this show was brought to you by A Kids Podcast About.

Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and wherever podcasts are found, and if you liked this episode, consider sharing it with a friend, teacher, or grownup. 

Join us next week for a conversation about white privilege with A Kids Book About author Ben Sand.