Cartoon Network is asking the tough questions when it comes to the lack of African American history in American history books.
In the viral PSA released Dec. 3, Steven Universe character Pearl is taking folks to task for keeping African American and African diasporic accomplishments out of modern records. The clip features Pearl teaching a class of children that Lewis Latimer, not Thomas Edison, is the real inventor of the filament light bulb. But when she realizes there’s more missing history in school books, she starts going in on America’s racism.
“We’re not going to mention why kids are apparently learning about Thomas Edison and not learning about Lewis Latimer?” Pearl says. “These textbooks are incomplete. There were Black Roman warriors, Black medieval knights, Black classical musicians, Black cowboys, Black fighter pilots–where are they?”
“You rely on these stories to learn about your own history. Thanks to systemic racism, most of your storytellers prioritize white accomplishments, which leaves you with an incomplete picture,” the character continued. “Ask yourself as you’re learning history who’s 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?”
The PSA also had a link to crystalgemsspeakup.com, a website created by Cartoon Network with the Steven Universe characters, teaching children how to be anti-racist in everyday life.
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 ✊????✊????✊????✊✊????✊????????
— Cartoon Network (@cartoonnetwork) December 3, 2020
As of Dec. 11, the video has been retweeted over 36,000 times and has received nearly 80,000 likes. Most commenters were pleasantly surprised with Cartoon Network’s candor about how American historians often suppress achievements by Black people.
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
I have to say CN, well done! pic.twitter.com/b3IhL7vb9p
— ????SpookeyGreenie???? (@DynoGreeno) December 3, 2020
Oh wow this was a good spot spit’n straight FACTS about our Education system. But I know it is gonna make some folks uncomfortable just like the video says it will. pic.twitter.com/nRlvofuzSh
— visoredavenger (@visoredavenger) December 3, 2020
As my history lessons got more advanced, I fully understand this. I understood patterns on what led to events, many things were filtered (Thanksgiving) and many minorities didn’t receive the credit they deserve. I wished our history books had more when I was younger.
— Edwin❄️???? (@RTKWolf) December 3, 2020
Of course, there were many white tears in the comments section as well. But, the fact that the PSA has led people online to start questioning what they’ve been taught, as well as feel seen and respected, proves the PSA is making an impact.