In 2012 we observed each of the national cultural heritage months recognized by Presidential proclamation. In doing so, we wanted the actions of the observation to be sincere and to be part of our professional development at West Wind. We decided that for each cultural heritage month we would have a brown bag lunch during which we would explore each culture with a discussion including such things as: identity and naming of the groups in the culture being observed; counter-stories to the stereotypes of the culture; and what are some of the issues children and families face in the educational system. These brown bags have been a great source of learning, debate, and growth for us.
During those brown bags we also discuss what visual images are used to represent the culture we are honoring. This is always a difficult part of the discussion as we offer up images and discuss whether and how they honor the culture or perpetuate stereotypes. We choose one or sometimes more images to use in the design of a banner for our website as part of the month of cultural observation. We don’t claim to have been perfect in choosing the images and some images may deliver unintended messages. However, we decided that we should do something with informed goodwill rather do nothing in fear that we might make a mistake.