When Ryan was little, I didn't let her watch much TV. We stuck to PBS for the most part and eventually moved on to a few shows on the Disney Channel. I looked for educational programs that showed diversity, as I wanted her little world to be filled with a wide variety of people from the start. Sesame Street, I found, was one of the best shows, with a cast of all ethnicities (and Muppeticities, too).
Television is still limited and I monitor what she watches pretty closely. When she wants to watch a 'grown-up' show, I determine whether or not it's appropriate and if I let her watch, I do so with her so I can answer any questions she might have or clarify any situations she might not understand. My goal is still (and will always be) to show her diversity and help her to understand that while everyone might not look or live the way we do, it's all good.
And I'm happy to say, I've found the absolute best network on television for diversity... HGTV!
Ryan and I watch it All.The.Time. She shares my interest in architecture and interior/landscape design and HGTV is a 24/7 visual flood of programs about just those things. We have spent entire rainy Saturdays in our pajamas, overdosing on House Hunters, Curb Appeal, and various kitchen, bath, and backyard design shows. But even better than seeing how professional organizers and designers fix other peoples' home issues is seeing the huge variety of people showcased on the network.
HGTV shows people - real people - from all walks of life... all professions... all incomes... all ages... all ethnicities... all sexual-orientations... all family situations. The focus is, of course, not on the people... it's on their living situations... but, of course, you can't help but notice the homeowners/seekers, as they are the ones who want/need/hope for the home of their dreams. And I love it when Ryan sees a multi-racial family and remarks how beautiful their children are; or when she sees 2 men looking for a house together and asks, very matter-of-factly, if they're brothers or a couple, and how the answer, no matter what it is, is met with "Oh, cool." I love that blended families, or families who have adopted children outside of their own race, or families with 2 dads or 2 moms seem completely normal to my daughter. And I love that HGTV doesn't shy away from showing everyone, regardless of whether or not their lifestyle meets the ideals of the 'majority'.
It makes me very happy that Ryan can turn on the television at any time and (safely and honestly) see how our world is made up of a huge variety of people and how we all want, basically, the same thing... home... a place where we feel safe and comfortable and loved... no matter who we are or what we look like. And I love HGTV... my new Sesame Street.