In Irvine, we are proud of saying that our city is not only among the most diverse cities in the nation, it is also the most fully integrated.
There are no ethnic, linguistic, religious, or cultural enclaves in Irvine: every neighborhood reflects Irvine’s ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural diversity.
How diverse is Irvine? A non-English language is spoken in a remarkable 58% of Irvine homes, with more than 70 different languages spoken in residences throughout Irvine. Nearly 40 % of Irvine’s public school students have a primary language other than English.
Irvine is also home to more than 80 different churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship, serving Irvine’s wonderful cultural and religious diversity.
But sometimes we face prejudice in Irvine.
That’s what happened recently when a young African-American boy was teased at school because of the color of skin.
His mother, Kourtney McGowen, was understandably hurt and upset and reached out on social media to other Irvine moms.
I’m proud of my community to say that the response she received was 100% love.
Kourtney then decided to create a “diversity play date” at an Irvine park to share — and celebrate — our diversity.
Here is how Kourtney describes what happened:
“It all started with Johnathan sharing his experiences at school with me. He told me that children were calling him names because of his skin color. As a mom of course I tried to make him feel better about being black by purchasing books, watching certain movies and talking to him about it. I even reached out to the school leadership. But his peers quickly diminished what confidence he had just gained.
I then decided to vent to my Irvine moms group on Facebook and share my concern and frustration. I even went as far as saying ‘please teach your children to accept other children that look different than they do, it starts at home.’ I wasn’t sure how the response would be. But, to my surprise, the post went viral. I had many moms express how sorry they were, private message me for play dates and share their own similar experiences with the same thing! I felt like this was an opportunity to make a difference so I went for it!
I am now planning a play date for the entire community and calling it “Celebrate Diversity”. To my surprise so many families got excited and I have over 84 saying they’re going. I now have the City Councilwoman Melissa Fox of Irvine as well as the Irvine Community Service Commissioner Lauren Johnson-Norris co-hosting this event with me! It will be next Sunday January 14th at 2:00pm. I plan to go live on Facebook for a portion of the event.
This is just another example of how one voice can make change happen. How are we using our voices? For change? Or for gossip? So excited for this opportunity!”
Here are the details:
What: Diversity Play Date
When: Sunday, January 14, 2018 2:00 pm — 5:00 pm.
Where: Santa Ynez Park, 110 Santa Ynez, Irvine, CA 92606
Description: “All ages are welcomed! Come bring your kiddos dressed in cultural clothing (if you’d like) and their favorite snack to share! This is an opportunity for us as parents to bring awareness to an ongoing issue of separating by race, culture, religion, skin color. Please join me in bringing our little ones together to encourage acceptance of others! Can’t wait to see you all!”
You can see the Facebook page for the event here.
As a member of the Irvine City Council, I am extremely proud of our city for surrounding Kourtney McGowan and her son with so much love and delighted to co-host this event together with Kourtney and Community Services Commissioner Lauren Johnson-Norris.
I am also tremendously impressed by how Kourtney McGowan turned a negative incident into a positive learning and sharing experience for our whole community!
Please join us!
See you there!