Diversify Your Kids’ Media Intake With These Movies and Books That Celebrate and Center Black Characters and Creators

Photo Courtesy: Matthew A. Cherry Entertainment/IMDb

To raise kids who are actively anti-racist, it's important for adults to examine their own biases — even unintentional ones — and self-educate by reading acclaimed anti-racist texts, and then pass on what they learn to the children in their lives. Parents can read kid-friendly, anti-racist books together, such as Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, and offer a safe space for kids’ anger, confusion, sadness and questions. Definitely don’t shy away or sugarcoat "difficult" topics. Be honest and open.

When watching classic kids’ movies by white creators — everything from The Goonies to most of Disney’s animated films — be sure to point out and discuss racist stereotypes and attitudes. Remaining silent and just glossing over offensive elements found in children’s movies isn’t helpful. In the same way you’d call out another person’s racist actions, call out films’ failings and have a meaningful discussion about them.

For parents of Black children, discussing racial identity and racism is a must, not only for exploring identity and understanding a society that centers on whiteness, but also for safety. On the other side, parents of white kids don’t feel the same pressure, instead focusing on "we're color-blind" or "we’re all people" rhetoric that contributes to systemic racism and prevailing racist attitudes in our country. "If you look at me and don’t see the color of my skin, you don’t see me at all," journalist Jeremy Helligar recently wrote in "When White People Say They ‘Don’t See Color,’" an article in Medium's Level imprint. "To accept Black people is to respect the uniqueness of the Black experience — not to pretend race and racism are illusions, unworthy of being discussed or even acknowledged."

With this in mind, in addition to confronting racism and anti-racism outright, it’s also important to diversify kids’ media intake. That is, you need to fill their bookshelves and Netflix streaming queues with works that don’t just center on Black pain or works that are meant to teach white people, but works by Black creators that celebrate Blackness and explore Black experiences and lives — works that express Black joy and love.