A new Public Service Announcement (PSA) from Cartoon Network schools children about alleged “systemic racism” in our nation’s education.
In the video, which was posted to social media earlier this month and has since gone viral, the character Pearl from the show “Steven Universe” lectures about how “black heroes” are often erased from history. She first cites the case of Lewis Latimer.
“The lightbulb could more rightfully be attributed to Lewis Latimer, the Black inventor behind the filament inside the bulb,” she says, before explaining the importance of the filament to the bulb’s functioning. “To create a better standard of living for people who had only just been freed from slavery.
“The lightbulb could more rightfully be attributed to Lewis Latimer, the Black inventor behind the filament inside the bulb,” she says.
“Hold on, we’re not going to mention why he invented the filament,” she later laments. “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? These textbooks are incomplete!”
LiveScience noted the history of Edison and Latimer: “Several months after the 1879 patent was granted, Edison and his team discovered that a carbonized bamboo filament could burn for more than 1,200 hours. Bamboo was used for the filaments in Edison’s bulbs until it began to be replaced by longer-lasting materials in the 1880s and early 1900s. In 1882, Lewis Howard Latimer, one of Edison’s researchers, patented a more efficient way of manufacturing carbon filaments.”
According to Pearl, history books routinely leave out the contributions of black people, prioritizing the accomplishments of white people instead.
“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 exclaims. “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,” she continues. “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?”
The video has been shared on Twitter up to 36.9k times. “Black inventors, heroes, and leaders are often left out of history,” Cartoon Network tweeted. “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 ✊🏿✊🏼✊🏾✊✊🏻✊🏽💖
— Cartoon Network (@cartoonnetwork) December 3, 2020
Earlier this year, as the Black Lives Matter protests stretched across the nation, VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer released a PSA of his own educating “white Christians” about systemic racism.
“As the country was wrestling with protests and riots, I began to notice videos flying among conservative white Christians on social media chiming in on the situation, often with little or no connection to actual facts or history,” Vischer said. “I wondered if maybe I could pull something together that could walk people through history without bashing anyone’s political party or calling them names. I thought maybe if I could just speak calmly about the facts of how we got where we are today, maybe that would help. I’m happy to say it appears I was right!”
“It may be true that there isn’t explicit racism in our legal system anymore, but it doesn’t mean justice is blind,” he added.
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