“Home” is the new DreamWorks animated film featuring Rhianna as the voice of “Tip,” a young Black girl avoiding alien capture, while searching for her mother with the company of a banished alien named “Oh.”
But this film is more than just a quirky cartoon, it is about putting shades of color on our most celebrated imagery– our films. The image of this young black girl smiling next to a character that looks just like her is priceless.
Tip is joining a recent list of animated Black girls that are making waves and showing our young girls that they are beautiful and they matter.
In 2009, Disney made Tiana the company’s ninth princess in the movie “The Princess and the Frog.” And Disney continues to show that Black Girls Rock with their “Doc McStuffins” series airing several times daily on the Disney channel.
Black girls need to not only see brown skin girls with kinky hair on the screen, they also need to be able to relate to them. Unfortunately, none of these cartoon characters typify Black culture. If their skin color was not there, they could be, for lack of a better word, white. For some reason, African American culture is not “clean” enough to include within the pedigree of these characters. At the same time, maybe Black culture shouldn’t be so narrowly defined. Are our households just like any others? Do we speak the same, think the same, etc? I would say, “no.” Culture is what separates us and brings us together. I would not expect a Chinese household to emulate my Black one. We are different, and I think our films, even animated ones, shouldn’t be afraid to expose that.
Even us grown folks have a new array of Black Girls to fodder over. There are three fictional characters that stand out this season — Olivia Pope from “Scandal,” Mary Jame from “Being Mary Jane,” and Annalise Keating in “How to Get Away with Murder.” All of these shows are led by women who give a new perspective to being a strong, Black woman in America. But only one, Being Mary Jane, seems to include the dynamic of the African American family and culture. Why is that? Would Olivia Pope (Scandal) be less courageous if she listened to D’Angelo, or less proper if she ate a collard green or two?
Not that Black characters require stereotypes to be down! All Black people are different. Many of us are vegetarians, some of us don’t eat pork, some speak very properly, while others spit out the “n-word” before every sentence. And while all these juxtapositions speak of a very fractured people, we do have one thing in common– a history of torture which makes us uniquely strong and willful, prideful, and rebellious. All of these traits often emanate in our behavior, perspective, and family life.
Even though I feel Black characters could be more relatable, I’m glad they are here. And I look forward to taking my son to see the new movie “Home.”