Saturday 12 February 2022

New Disney Junior TV show lectures preschoolers about racial microaggressions

 Disney Junior – a self-described "global multiplatform brand expressly for kids age 2-7" – launched a new kids show earlier this month titled "Rise Up, Sing Out." The short-form animated musical series is executive produced by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter of the music group The Roots.

D23 – "the official Disney fan club" – says "Rise Up, Sing Out" is an "animated show featuring music-based shorts that showcase an inspiring, empowering, and optimistic message about race, culture, community, and celebrating differences."

Variety reports, "The series, which will touch upon themes like diversity, inclusion, kindness and self-expression, was produced in response to parents who have increasingly asked Disney Junior for entertainment content to aid them in talking to children about respect towards others."

Common Sense Media – an organization that provides parents with age-based ratings of entertainment – noted that "Rise Up, Sing Out" is suitable for children ages 3 and up. 

Common Sense Media states:

In each approximately 3-minute episode, a diverse group of kids share ideas, sometimes have conflicts, and then sing songs that answer questions like "Is it OK for another person to touch my hair without permission?" or "What's it like to have parents from two different cultures?" Concepts addressed through the show's songs include microagressions, hearing scary news on TV, black hair routines, and more, all explored in an age-appropriate way.

The first episode has a song with the lyrics:

Come on, everybody, let's gather 'round
It's time to talk about the things that are goin' down
Racism in the world affects me and you
And it's time to end it now, let's come together, we'll show you how

The St. Louis American said the show for preschoolers features characters who "grapple with the harsh realities of implicit bias and the trauma that comes with bearing witness to racial violence."

The outlet describes the plot for one episode: "Before bedtime, Gabriel confesses to his abuela that he is terrified after seeing the news where he saw someone suffer simply because they had the same skin color as he has."

Another episode shows the characters get upset when they feel like they are not represented at an art museum.

Another episode lectures preschoolers about racial microaggressions.

"A microaggression is when someone says or does something that makes you feel bad. Sometimes just because of your race," a child says in the episode. "But you know what, he’s wrong. You should be proud of your skin, it’s what makes you-YOU!"

The cartoon characters then break into a song.

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