Childhood is a wonderful, yet fragile, time where kids are unknowingly forming their self-identity. We see children as sponges who absorb a myriad of bits and pieces of information every day. That means the opportunity for great influence presents itself everywhere; this is shown to be exceptionally true in the TV and film spaces.
If you have young ones, it's important to show them people portrayed on the screen in a positive light that look like them — little Black boys and girls growing, learning and having fun. Whether the purpose of watching is to give a hardworking mom a break for a few minutes or family TV time, what your children see on screen matters. To help, we put together a small list for parents that have a child in need of cartoons based on African-American characters.
Where: Hulu, Disney+
The series follows Dottie “Doc” McStuffins who aspires to be a doctor one day, just like her pediatrician mother. It’s beautiful to see a program that inspires young ladies of color to strive for any career they want, not just the ones the world tells them they can excel in.
While Doc tends to her talking toys and dolls with help from “The Big Book of Boo Boos,” children learn how to stay healthy in their daily lives. The show also pushed boundaries showing same-sex parental relationships. Acceptance of others, wellness education and positive role models? Doc McStuffins definitely passes our check-up.
This is a personal favorite of mine. It weaves some great musical history into a fun and relatable program for young children. Each episode is based on a different Motown classic. It was sensational hearing Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and The Jackson 5 repurposed for today’s kids to enjoy.
The show follows Ben, a bright eight-year-old who uses a magical paintbrush to bring Motown street art to life. Do yourself a favor and enjoy some hits you grew up hearing while your child follows the fantasies of Ben and his friends.
DreamWorks Home: Adventures of Tip & Oh
This series is based on the popular 2015 film, Home, in which Rihanna played the main character, Tip Tucci. For the series production she passed the reigns on to Rachel Crow, a young Disney channel veteran.
The series follows Tip through her fearless journey in Earth’s combined human and alien society. The Netflix original inspires us to persevere in a strange world we may not understand and to accept others different from ourselves — messages I think our youth need now more than ever.
Craig of the Creek
Where: Cartoon Network
First of all, peep the Howard crewneck sweater.
Craig of the Creek is for children with an adventurous spirit and boasts some very established Black actors, such as Phil LaMarr and Terry Crews. The show is based on a brown skin nine-year-old boy who’s a natural born leader and is set in a fictional DMV suburb. He is also in advanced classes and enjoys them.
What sticks out to me the most about this series is the family dynamic. Each member of the family has several positive characteristics or tidbits from their history: Craig’s dad loves spending time playing video games with his son, his brother is on track to attend an Ivy League school, his sister is younger but already studying the stock market and last, but not least, his grandmother is a city councilperson and was a civil rights activist in the '60s. This show depicts what a Black family could and should be — strong, proud and always ready to laugh.
The future of our people lies in the hands of our youth. So, it’s our responsibility to provide them with content that celebrates who they are, teaches them and inspires them to push the boundaries society tries to place on us. It is what we instill in them now that will last beyond our time.
Cartoons and animation are fun and bright for children, but only we can see the real benefit in showing them inclusive programming. Make sure your child sees people of all creeds and colors loving each other and achieving their wildest dreams.