Include Play in Your Anti-Racism Journey.

Take a moment to play. It doesn’t matter at what, or where, or how. The secret is to make it playful.


White writing on red background "You are not responsible for how another receives your boundaries. You are only responsible for setting them and communicating them with integrity". Alyssa Mancao


Play boosts your energy. Yes, even if it is active and tires you. I hear you. I am exhausted, but when I throw a ball around with my kids, or when we engage in silliness, I feel energized, even as I fall asleep mid-sentence. (True Story)

I don’t know why, but that direction makes me feel inadequate. I think I have forgotten how to play. Play is scary. When, in my day, do I have time to “play”? When I have a moment where I am not carrying the weight of the world, or the household on my mind, I often zone out, scroll out, check out. But Play? That fills me with trepidation.


Sound familiar?


We know that play is crucial for a child’s development, and unstructured free play is essential to developing skills of social interaction, self-soothing, and self-motivation. We encourage children to play, in a variety of settings. Early education is best based on playing interactions. There are even parenting approaches that are called playful (e.g. “Playful Parenting” by Lawrence J.Cohen). So why does play in adulthood and for ourselves sound intimidating?


There are benefits of play and playfulness at any age is multifaceted. Play helps:


Relieve stress

  • Play triggers the release of endorphins. Endorphins promote feelings of wellbeing. In some cases, pain can be temporarily relieved. A reduction of stress, also means our cortisol (stress hormone) is reduced; this improves our overall physical health.

Improve brain function

  • Solving puzzles or strategic games such as chess can prevent memory problems. Many studies have pointed to increased cognition in elderly persons who do routine word games or puzzles.

  • Interactive play with family and friends can be a part of treating or preventing stress and depression.

Stimulate the mind and boost creativity

  • We learn best when we have fun learning and we are relaxed.

  • Play also stimulates imagination, which can increase our adaptability and ability to problem solve.

Improve Connection and Relationships

  • Playfulness allows us to develop trust with our connections. Trust enables us to work and live together, open ourselves to intimacy, and give courage to try new things.

  • Play can be a state of mind, which allows for connection with strangers; fosters new friendships to develop and facilitates networking. Charming people often have a playful nature.

Improve Energy

  • Play boosts your energy. Yes, even if it is active and tires you. I hear you. I am exhausted, but when I throw a ball around with my kids, or when we engage in silliness, I feel energized, even as I fall asleep mid-sentence. (True Story)

  • When we increase our energy, we improve our resistance to disease and stress.

So play. It will help you maintain an optimal state of mind to be able to do the hard work of unlearning biases and actively fighting racism.


There is no prescribed activity, but do something that is fun, hopefully active, definitely engaging. Laugh, be silly. Play on the playground equipment. Play a board game with the family. Make silly jokes with the kids.


Just. let. go.


Laughter really is the best medicine.


Here are some links to expand your understanding around play in adulthood and childhood.


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