Growing up in West Africa, I can probably count on one hand the number of black cartoon shows I watched. Is it not interesting that even while growing up in Africa, I would not be able to watch an animated series with many characters who look like me? The few animated shows I watched that did have black characters did not have them as the lead.
There is no doubt that black animated shows and cartoons with black characters in general have become more popular in mainstream media. This is evident when you see the wide selection of content that is available for people who want their children to have something they can identify with when they watch television. This is at least the case in the Western world.
There are black cartoon shows on several networks. Some of them are more popular than others but they all share the fact that they are ideal for children of all ages. The animations mentioned in this article will probably give you nostalgic memories about your childhood. There are also more recent ones that you may only just be discovering. Your kids might know about them even if you do not.
Some of the most popular cartoon shows that feature black characters include:
- Esme and Roy – available on HBO/Hulu
This is quite a recent one featuring two best friends who go on adventures in Monsterdale. It is targeted at pre-schoolers and teaches mindfulness practices.
- Nella and the Princess Knight – available on Amazon prime, Google Play
This princess can transform into a knight! She saves the people of her parents’ kingdom and learns lessons in the process.
- Bino and Fino – available on Amazon Prime
Bino and Fino are Nigerian kids who learn something new about Africa in each episode. These siblings will expose you to anything from foods to languages to animals.
While there are other shows available, these have shown to be some of the most popular African cartoons or black family cartoons available. If you want black Disney cartoon choices and black cartoon choices on Netflix, you will find several options on those networks as well.
There are a few more black animated series to choose from now than before and this is great for black parents that want to show their children the value of their culture. This is always important when you want your kids to grow up being proud and aware of their racial identity.
The importance of watching black cartoon shows
Both for children and adults, having access to black cartoon shows is of great significance.
It is necessary for non-black children to see children of a different colour represented in their televisions shows. They need to know that people of races are present in every facet of life. Including in their animations.
For adults who enjoy cartoons, seeing black characters in your show is a good reminder that you are living in a multicultural and diverse world. This is especially important if you are not surrounded by people of different backgrounds in your own life.
My top 5 favourite black cartoon shows
- The Cleveland Show. The Cleveland Show is a hilarious adult sitcom. It is a spin-off from Family Guy so if you have seen Family Guy, you know what to expect. It focuses on Cleveland Brown who tries to get with his high school crush.
- Doc McStuffins. An American Irish show targeted at children. This black cartoon show is focused on Dottie McStuffins who wants to be a doctor like her mommy, so she fixes her broken toys.
- Hammerman. This is an oldie but goodie. Back in ’91, this series focused on an animated version of rapper MC Hammer. The character is a musical superhero with magical shoes.
- Kid ‘n Play. This is based on the real life hip-hop group of the same name. the series seemed to teach the lessons of maintaining friendships and staying out of trouble.
- Motown Magic. The animated children’s show on Netflix uses those good old tunes that everyone knows to create great stories. The main character has a magic paintbrush that he uses to bring street art to life.
The influence and involvement of black artists and cartoonists in the entertainment industry is more powerful than ever before. This is something that is allowing parents to show their children that black people are capable of great things. It is also a great way for them to start seeing role models that share similar origins.
Despite advancements being made, there is always room for improvement. I look forward to a time when all racial identities are represented in the most popular black cartoon shows on TV. Recent times have certainly shown us that there is a hunger for better representation of all races in every facet of life. Each little girl and boy deserves to see themselves in fun cartoon form on television. Oh, and the adults deserve that too.