Blog Post: Cartoons with Representation

I feel like teaching kids how the world works is important and that's why we should pay special attention to what media they watch. I want to make sure my son watches things that are gender balanced and show people of different ethnicities. I end up having a conversation with almost every parent of a brown kid I meet about shows that have kids like them on it, so here's my list:

1. Doc McStuffins. I'm pretty sure everyone has heard of this one, little African-American girl who plays doll doctor. It doesn't particularly hold my kids' attention.

2. Blaze and the Monster Machines. This is one of my all time favorites, the show that sets the high water mark for quality kids programing. It's seriously educational and seriously fun. The STEM based curriculum is both a concept and a vocab builder. The female character is awesome and the male lead is a brown little boy.

3. Zack and Quack. This is the only show my kids will watch together right now. The art is clever and very interesting. The whole concept of the show is that it's a pop-up book world and so everyone is rendered as paper cut outs. My only complaint is that it's very Christiancentric and generically American for a joint Israeli production. While not the titular character, Kira is a main player in every episode. She has pale brown skin and dark cork screw hair.

4. Nella the Princess Knight. I love the concept, the art is beautiful and when it's on it's on. Sadly the episodes are very uneven and a few are nearly unwatchably boring. That said, it's the only show I know with a multi-ethnic fantasy kingdom and a protagonist who has an African looking father and a vaguely European looking mom. Not to mention she's a princess who kicks butt!

5.Rusty Rivets. The titular character's best friend is some stripe of Latina with light brown skin and darker brown curly hair. It's a great little STEM show that's a lot of fun. The art is nice and it gets extra points for having a gender non-conforming ice cream man.

6. Ready Jet Go. I love this show and it kind of makes me sad I can't get my children as in engaged with it as I am. It's very educational, with a family of aliens sojourning on earth. The son, Jet Propulsion, spends every episode taking his neighbors on space adventures. One of them looks African and another is ethnically ambiguous.

I'd also like to give a special shout out to the latest iteration of Teenage Ninja Turtles, which has a black April. While not one of the main characters per se, she is the only really important human and I think it's awesome that they decided to make the turtles' crush closer to their age and not just generically Irish looking.