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We’ve been urging parents to buy from Black-owned businesses all year long. But since it’s Black History Month, we thought we’d take this opportunity to say it one more time. And here’s why it’s important: It’s not as easy as it should be to find toys made and sold by Black-owned companies. So the more you actually do so, you’re voting with your dollar, showing the gatekeepers (investors, banks, big retailers) that representation matters in the toy industry as much as everywhere else.
Now for some great news: Though they’re certainly not as plentiful as the toymakers based in far off lands of Europe and Asia, homegrown Black toymakers have created some beautiful, quality toys that your kids will love. We found baby teethers, plushies, dolls, action figures, puzzles, and games suited for children of all ages. Name a category of toy and there is likely a Black-owned entrepreneur who made a quality toy that fits.
If you or your children are Black, we don’t need to tell you the value of putting money back into the community, rather than into some nameless, faceless megacorp. We also know that when children of color see themselves represented in books, toys and ads for toys, they don’t get the message that white children are somehow better than them.
And if you’re not Black, this is one more opportunity to put your money where so many of us put our mouths back in June 2020. All of our children benefit when there are more people of diverse backgrounds represented in this industry: They get a bigger selection of fun things to play with, and their pretend world looks a little more like the real world around them.
In addition to the toys we list here, we also recommend you take a minute to shop in real-life or online at a Black-owned store. The Black Toy Store is a wonderful, extensive online resource. We also adore the offerings of Chicago-based clothing and toy boutique Kido, which sells many of its products online too. Or shop locally, at places that employ people from your neighborhood.
But, without further ado, here are our top picks for toys from Black-owned businesses your kids would love to receive.
A version of this story originally ran in November 2020.
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