Diversity, Disability and Dolls

Public Law 99-457 passed in 1986, amending the Education of the Handicapped Act and requiring states to provide appropriate and free public education to children with disabilities ages 3 through 5. Shortly after the implementation of this law began in 1991, I was fortunate enough to work with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in Washington, D.C. As one of the few white women on staff, I learned much about diversity and disability. However, the lessons I learned often left me dismayed about how society represented each and every child. I learned one such lesson when I wanted to find dolls that the children and I could wash together in the water table. I liked this activity because I could talk to children about the different aspects of the dolls, like skin color. I went in search of black dolls for the water table because the children in my class were black and Hispanic. I rarely had a white student in my class. I went to store after store after store looking for dolls. There were white babies everywhere but no black or Hispanic babies. I finally found a catalog I could order them from but could not get over that fact that dolls of other races were not available in stores. These were the same stores my students’ families shopped in every week.

Read more at CBC Diversity.

Image source CBC Diversity.

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