Inclusive representation in kids’ media, while not an instant fix for all of our country’s deeply rooted systemic racism, is a critical step in creating racial equity. What children take in media-wise plays a massive role in how they view themselves and others. And we all know how kids tend to simply blurt out what is on their minds, which is why it is even more important for them to learn about races and ethnicities other than their own, and how to navigate situations where someone might be unkind to another based on their race or cultural practices.
This is why Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Amir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots partnered with Disney+ for Rise Up, Sing Out, an animated series of shorts with songs focused on inclusion and empowerment. The series premiered on February 3 in honor of Black History Month, and so far five episodes have been released.
The latest short, titled “Super Bonnet,” celebrates Black hair care at a slumber party. Friends Taniya, Shawna, and So-Hyeon break out in song to teach their friend Amelia about how they use bonnets to keep their natural curly-textured hair protected while they sleep.
Not only is the song super catchy (what else would you expect from two members of The Roots?), but it is also already making a positive impact. Mom Breanna Martin, aka @ladybreannamartin on Instagram, shared this heartwarming reel of her daughter jamming to the song while wearing her own adorable pink leopard bonnet. “This is why representation matters! My daughter got so excited to wear her bonnet 😊,” Martin wrote on the video.
And yes, to answer everyone’s question, that is the proud Dad in the background saying, “yes girl, yes queen!” as his daughter dances.
“This is why representation matters!!! Seven got so excited to wear her bonnet because she seen the other little girls on tv wearing one. You could see her reaction was like “hey, I have one of those too 😍😄💃🏾🙆🏾♀️” lol. Too cute!” she started her caption. “I posted this on my TikTok and it was comments of people saying this video made them cry. It’s a new day and we embrace brown skin, natural hair, and the total black experience,” she added.
The video got tons of love, and some voiced how they wished they had grown up with shows that celebrated Black experiences
“Wonder how different a lot of our lives wld have been, if we grew up being seen & affirmed 💓👏🏾💓👏🏾,” said one. “this just made me cry🥺im just so happy that black girls can grow up confident and not insecure that they don’t look like what they see on TV 🥰,” said another fan of the video.
Rise Up, Sing Out creator Latoya Raveneau, along with Questlove and Black Thought, wanted to create a show that could be a tool for both kids and adults to start conversations about inclusiveness and celebrating uniqueness.
“We always wanted these shorts to be uplifting, hopeful, because we grounded it in this kid-like optimism, we can talk about all the things we can do to make the world better,” Raveneau explained. Looks like the show’s doing its job, as the world is definitely a better place seeing the joy on this little girl’s face as she sees a Black girl with a bonnet on TV, just like her.