Methods: This study reports results from an integrative narrative review of three mutual informative, but often siloed, literatures to develop the conceptual framework. It, first, provides an overview of play scholarship, highlighting how play is important to the development of all children, and the ways in which play is conceptualized. Second, it provides an overview of literature regarding play and anti-Blackness, highlighting the multifaceted historical and contemporary relationship between Black children, play, and anti-Black violence. Finally, it draws on literature from the Black Radical Tradition, to discuss the ways in which play for Black children must be fundamentally understood as a radical and liberatory project.
Results: The resultant conceptual framework, Black Children’s Play, acknowledges how Black children utilize play in order to resist, reclaim, and restore environments around them. This framing also suggests that this play is best understood through three forms—play styles, experiences, and spaces—in order to holistically understand how play for Black children is essential to three developmental elements—radical healing, critical consciousness, and youth activism—amidst anti-Black violence. We will conclude this article discussing and exploring the utility of Black Children’s Play and the possibilities that it can offer Black children as well as practitioners, parents, and the greater community.
Conclusion: By attending to Black children’s play styles, experiences, and spaces, this conceptual framework offers new possibilities for not only interrupting anti-Black violence in both research and practice, but also paving the way to take up opportunities to support and co-construct spaces for Black children’s play that have potential to usher in a more liberatory world.