Hello Kidogo Members!
I hope that today you are well and thriving!
Do you guys remember the scene in "Malcolm X" when Malcolm is introduced to the dictionary definition of the word "black?" Catch the clip here for a refresher:
That scene has stayed with me. It is not a bell that is easy to unring. And it shouldn't be. The myriad of negative connotations of the word "black" is not accidental or incidental. Most of the dictionary definitions of the word are, in my opinion, flimsily veiled excuses to colorize racism. And Black people know it. We know it and we actively fight against it.
Nina Simone's anthem, "To Be Young, Gifted, and Black" is one of many attempts to upend the self-serving impositions of negativity associated with blackness:
And we continue to try and succeed: Black Lives Matter, Black Girl Magic, Black Boy Joy, Black Love, etc. BUT, we are fighting an uphill battle. Unfortunately, the battle begins early in our lives. So insidious are the messages our babies receive. So sly.
I am sure you have noticed how cartoons and other children's content portray the "evil one." That's right-- they use the color black and other dark colors. Black robes, black hats, darker skin tones, ominous music, midnight skies, black cats, black magic, dark magic. Non-Black children are taught to fear Black, black and other dark tones early on OR they are taught to ignore Black people in our absence. These early learned lies stick with them as they become decision makers-- and we end up with #OscarsSoWhite and 94.4% of the cartoons characters to be anyone but Black.
What happens to our children when they are subjected to the same colorized animus, ignorance, and erasure? Are they strong, steely, and confidant enough to slough it off, to ignore the negative messages, to withstand the pain? No. Emphatically, no. Our children have to fight way too hard to see themselves as heroes, instead of villains, good instead of evil, brilliant and worthy instead of silly and off to the side. They suffer. We are asking their developing brains to do too much. It's not fair or just.
As vigilant I am in monitoring what my daughter consumes, I can't protect her from everything. She is susceptible. I have heard her say, "Mommy, I want my hair like Elsa's." "Mommy, I am scared of that Black cat." When she was watching My Little Pony, the "evil pony" entered the scene and, true to tropes, it was black. "Turn it off!" I blurted. She looked at me as I was punishing her. How do I explain white supremacy in the corporate structure of the children's media industry to a 5 year old?! I shouldn't have to. None of us should have to.
I started Kidogo Productions as an antidote. Perhaps if we offer positive images in proper doses, we can counter or balance the negativity? It's an idea worth pursuing.
More needs to be done, though. You can also join me in the clarion call for change. The children's media industry needs to be stripped of its white supremacists strains. Who's with me?
For the Kids, for the Culture,