Dear Steve and the LEGO Group,
I wanted to express my gratitude to you and your company for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully to my students. They were very impressed that you had so clearly looked at their gender and culture data, read their letters and looked at their photographs in www.whatitisisbeautiful.com Your respect and consideration for my student’s learning will be something they remember for the rest of their lives.
The word Lego, as you know, means “play well”-- and I have thought about this much lately as a teacher and as a parent. The way children play and the ways children are invited to play by the media and marketing targeted toward them affects their perceptions of who they are in this world and how they may treat others. Your toys, lego bricks, can literally build a better future for the world by including and celebrating all children in how you market your sets, and how you represent people-- because you are teaching children how they can be in the world through play. This is a tremendous responsibility.
I applaud your choice of Dr. Kooijman’s women scientists as the Lego Ideas winner! I affirm that this is just the beginning of celebrating both genders in all professions. I was talking to my neighbor yesterday about our What It Is Is Beautiful Project-- she was the first African American woman on the police force in Madison, WI and the second woman officer to be hired-- I want to see amazing people like her represented in your Lego City sets.
None of us can change what has already happened, but we can begin new in each moment and reflect on our impact in this world. I am going to share several response letters from my students with you. You will see that they are encouraged by the gender inclusive steps you are taking, while they are concerned/perplexed by Lego’s reluctance to show a variety of skin tones. We all naturally notice differences and we can all take time to pause, note differences, accept them and ultimately embrace and celebrate them. Lego’s choice to have neutral, yellow people is an approach from a different time-- and I encourage you to update your delightful Lego minifigures into many shades of brown.
My students studied this graphic from National Geographic/Sarah Leen. http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/genetics/skin-color. When we look at this photo we recognize that these are all people with different levels of melanin in their skin-- we would not know their gender identity or cultural identity unless we politely asked them. By simply creating minifigures in all shades of brown, and providing all different hairstyles and clothes for gender expression, you can include all kids in your Lego World. And I am certain your global sales will increase dramatically.
Thank you again for honoring my students with your consideration and time.
Shorewood Hills Elementary, Madison, Wisconsin
art and social studies teacher