President's Letter: Pause & Reflect

June 3, 2020 | Yesterday, our Toy Association team embraced the “pause” and went quiet on all media communications, including Toy News Tuesday. Instead, we focused entirely on member service and reflection on where our nation stands. I’ve communicated with our staff; we’ve shared thoughts amongst each other and encouraged discussion. We are truly sad for our cities and for all the families affected by discrimination and violence.

The Toy Association’s beliefs and passion for the toy community are evident as we talk about healthy childhood development and about play for healing and bringing joy, but right now this isn’t a time to talk about play. This is a time to talk about what’s happening in our nation and on our streets, it’s a time to talk about racism, and to be having honest conversations about equality, about caring, and about what we should each and collectively as a nation stand for. How do we pull ourselves together and remember the dignity that applies to everyone in this country? It is an important time to stand up, be counted, and care about people. As an industry that needs to make great strides to improve our own diversity, we have much to reflect upon and even more actions to take.

diversity-intersects-on-playgroundMany of us are feeling helpless. What can we do? Where can we start? As an organization and industry that is focused on families and providing joy to kids, talking to your children about kindness, understanding, openness, acceptance, and striving for a future where there is equity, and especially love, is a good place to start. We should be supportive in finding a way forward where all people are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve. Let us not squander the gift that is this nation – and what this nation could and should be.

Together, our vast diversity defines humanity. That's why I love the toy business, as I did my prior work at The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, because in the end it's really all about kids, families, and building a better future for all. Period. Full stop. Not any given race, nor color, gender, age, or region. Happy, healthy kids and families. And, our playing a very small part toward giving them a bright future. Isn't that what we should all want? Isn't that a measure of what our nation needs? I'd love your thoughts on all this, or to just talk and catch up, either on a keyboard or, much better, in voice.

I don't have elegant solutions to propose to you as our nation is now entangled in another dose of turmoil rooted in discrimination (which is racism made real) that I'll never know as a 6'2" white male. What I do know is love combined with respect is a good start. As we travel this uncertain road together, I suggest we lead with those two qualities and perhaps recall one of many apropos Martin Luther King Jr. quotes: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Here's to a better June and more importantly a brighter future for all.

Stay safe. Stay well. Stay kind.

Steve Pasierb

Steve Pasierb
President & CEO