Promoting Diversity Through Play
by Brittney Weinerth MS, OTR/L
Writing this post feels a bit scary for me. Bringing a “controversial” topic to the table of a small business is risky but I strongly believe that sharing our values will enable us to continue to serve those we are meant to serve.
In the past few days my heart has felt extremely heavy, helpless, and scared. But I have also been witness of people all around me (myself included) learning more about acceptance, opening their eyes to their often hidden internal biases, and being open and ready for change. Within our training as occupational therapists we spend a significant amount of time discussing various topics related to race, cultural sensitivity, understanding and recognizing our own biases, attitudes and beliefs. Additionally as a former lecturer at San Jose State University I taught the course on professional development and one of the four pillars of the class was on embracing diversity (Self-reflection and awareness of one’s own identity, values, attitudes, and prejudices. Skills in perceiving, understanding, respecting, and responding to others’ diverse experiences, values, attitudes, and prejudices).
Despite having had the opportunity to spend a lot of time reflecting on and thinking about cultural competency and acceptance, I have learned so much about how far I have to come. This week I have learned big and small things such as:
- Many people are afraid to talk about race because they haven’t taken the time to understand the culture, history, and preferences of people of color.
- It is often preferred to call an individual “Black” rather than African American.
- The word Black should be capitalized.
*I am still learning and am open to being further educated. Thank you for those who have responded with additions or corrections to the above.
Although I have realized that I have a sense of fear around talking about the topic of race and racism, what I have learned the most is that it takes being vulnerable right now and risking doing it wrong in order to learn, grow, and support.
In this post I want to share with you some toys I have purchased for our office to ensure diversity and ensure that anyone who walks through our doors feels like they belong. I have also included some toys that I thought you all may enjoy to have at home (links below).
I’ve included links here to make it easier to find.
1. 6 Rainbow People Wooden Peg Dolls
2. Colorations Multi Cultural Dough
3. I Am Enough
4. Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History
5. A Child’s Introduction to African American History
6. Constructive Playthings Expression Babies Plush Dolls
7. Emotions Flash Cards Feelings
8. Crayola Multicultural Marker Classpack
Since writing this post, I also found and purchased new art for our clinic from an artist of color. They are so incredibly beautiful I wanted to share them here: