One great virtue...
I remember watching a mother trying to mainstream her physically disabled 4 year old child. Acknowledging her efforts, I thought I'd take the opportunity to grab my 3 year old daughter and place them together to play. My daughter got one look of the other child and started screaming when she saw that the girl was missing ears and had visible shunts implanted into her scalp. The sight of my SCREAMING 3 YEAR OLD was not pretty--in fact my "good intentions" left me with the feeling of emberassment!
As the childhood years are going by, I've placed great emphasis in doing a better job of teaching awareness and tolerance to other races and differences among humans.
The use of stereotypes often leads to misunderstanding and hurt feelings, because they may be either untrue generalizations, truthful but unflattering generalizations, or truthful generalizations about a group which are untrue of any given member of a group. Bias is a human condition, and American history is rife with prejudice against groups and individuals because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or other differences.
Bias is learned in childhood. By age 3, children can be aware of racial differences and may have the perception that "white" is desirable. By age 12, they can hold stereotypes about ethnic, racial and religious groups. Because stereotypes underlie hate, and because almost half of all hate crimes are committed by young men under 20, tolerance education is critical.
One (OF THE MANY) things I love about my boyfriend is that he has done a great job of promoting diversity in my family. We stand together (and strong!) on this topic. He took the children to eat Indian food for the first time last weekend. Oh, bestow my heart!!! (It also helps that he is from another country, and from another species--part ape!).
We can promote diversity by letting children tell stories about their families, however different they may be. Diversity embraces not just race, but age, religion, marital status and personal ability.