Cartoon Network is being applauded for a new anti-racism PSA. Narrated by Pearl, a character from Steven Universe, the video aims to bring awareness to systemic racism in America’s education system.
“Black inventors, heroes, and leaders are often left out of history,” the network tweeted along with the video. “Ask yourself as you're learning...who is the focus? Why? Question the story.”
Black inventors, heroes, and leaders are often left out of history. Ask yourself as you're learning...who is the focus? Why? Question the story ✊🏿✊🏼✊🏾✊✊🏻✊🏽💖
The Crystal Gems say BE ANTI-RACIST! Visit https://t.co/5ukinriWYO to learn more. pic.twitter.com/gNLYLO9PER
— Cartoon Network (@cartoonnetwork) December 3, 2020
The clip begins with Pearl asking her class who invented the lightbulb. When everyone says Thomas Edison, she says that’s “not entirely true.”
“The lightbulb could more rightfully be attributed to Lewis Latimer, the Black inventor behind the filament inside the bulb,” she explains, before going off on the importance of understanding why he invented the filament: “To create a better standard of living for people who had only just been freed from slavery.
“Are we going to ask why kids are apparently learning about Thomas Edison and not learning about Lewis Latimer?” she continues. “These textbooks are incomplete!”
Oh, but Pearl’s not done yet.
“There were Black Roman warriors, Black medieval knights, Black classical musicians, Black cowboys, Black fighter pilots. Where are they? I worry about you humans,” she says. “You rely on these stories to know your own history. Thanks to systemic racism, most of your storytellers prioritized white accomplishments which leaves you with an incomplete picture. Ask yourself as you’re learning history, who is telling the story?” Was this modified to make white readers comfortable? Are major details being left out that would credit people of color and center their point of view?”
Although the video was released last week, it started to go viral on Wednesday. The PSA has been met with a (mostly) positive response online.
Cartoon Network absolutely doesn’t have to do this. There’s nothing forcing them to. It’s not Black history month and there’s no national outrage that they’re capitalizing on. They do it cause it matters. THIS is the right way to tackle anti-racism.
Bravo CN 👏🏾
— N.I.C.E. Entertainment Group (@NICEEntGroup) December 3, 2020
— The Antiques and Arts Anorak (Sean) (@TheFineArtsRR) December 9, 2020
that cartoon network clip on how racism affects dominant historical narratives is pretty good. to learn more see edward said's concept of orientalism, and how it can be used as a critical tool to counteract imperialist and racist stereotyping and framingpic.twitter.com/aAV9ELXNDx
— ☀️👀 (@zei_squirrel) December 9, 2020
— I’m Tony’s gay husband 🏳️🌈 (@RHSanDiego) December 9, 2020
40 seconds of gold. Cartoon Network was fed up‼️ https://t.co/PfDksgGWg3
— Mekka Don (@MekkaDonMusic) December 9, 2020
"Thanks to systemic racism most of your storytellers prioritized white accomplishments" Cartoon Network had the time today 👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿 https://t.co/ZfumODptzS
— Desmond (@DezzySama) December 3, 2020
The PSA is part of Cartoon Network’s effort to stand “behind anti-racism as part of our commitment to fostering inclusion and equity.”
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