18 October 2006
Black Cartoons - MIA?
After watching my youngest child running around proclaiming to be Handy Manny, I took a long hard look at the state of television entertainment for Black children.
Now before I lose all of my good daddy credits, I want to make it clear that my kids don't sit around all day staring blankly at the television, but reality is reality and they do have their favorites shows.
Handy Manny is a decent little show - it centers around a friendly, young Latino man and his talking tools. Almost all of his neighbors are Latino and the show slips in as much Spanish as a typical American audience can handle. This show, the newest member in the Latino Cartoon Invasion, was the straw that broke the camel's back with me, because it clearly shows just how woefully under-represented Black people are in children's cartoons! I understand that Latinos are pouring into our country in amazing numbers everyday both legally and illegally - but the mass media [AGAIN] is devaluing the Black audience.
Black people are disproportionately unrepresented in television and in movies - that's no big secret and its far from new. But I am very distrurbed by the fact that now the mass media is reaching out so agressively to welcome and embrace the Latino children's audience. It is as if Black kids aren't even worth an effort in the world of children's cartoons!
I actually asked a few of my Black contemporaries to "Name a Black Cartoon." We all said the same thing you just said - Fat Albert! Now - I will say that there is at least one other Black cartoon, "The Proud Family." But sadly, The Proud Family is disappointing at best. Many of the storylines deal with issues that are fairly ghetto minded: Hoochie dancin'; stealin'; being disrespected, dealing with hoodlums, etc. I know that a lot of folks in the entertainment industry believe anything Black on film has to "be keepin' it real," but "keepin' it real" doesn't have to mean cookouts and crime . My little kids - My Little Black Kids - don't need "keepin' it real" with booty shakin', guns, fightin', drinkin' and bling wavin'. My Little Black Kids deserve the same alphabet learning, number learning, positive images and inspired storylines that White and Latino kids get shown by other White and Latino people.
This Latino Cartoon Invasion [as I call it] consists of some very nice cartoons - let me make that point crystal clear. Most of these shows are educational and have positive stories and include: Captain Carlos, Dora the Explorer, Go Diego Go , Dragon Tales and Maya & Miguel. It took me just three seconds to come up with these few names. But the only cartoon based on Black characters is The Proud Family. Pitiful.
Fortunately, I have been seeing and hearing a lot about an educational cartoon created by and starring Andre 3000 called "The Class of 3000" and my fingers are crossed real tight that this will be a cartoon with a Black lead that I can be proud of. (No pun intended)