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Representation Matters: 35 Black Kids TV Shows You Can Watch Right Now

black-kids-tv-shows

Representation Matters: 35 Black Kids TV Shows You Can Watch Right Now

WORDS: Tonya Abari

Sidekick where? These shows have Black characters as the stars.


Let’s face it. Representation in media matters. If your kiddos are watching TV, you at least want them to see uplifting images of Black and brown people, right? It’s affirming. It’s inspiring. It’s necessary.

(Editor’s note: The lack of diversity is something we talked about in the fourth episode of the mater mea podcast—you can listen here.)

Wondering what Black shows are on network television or streaming? Here is a lengthy list of television shows that feature Black leads. (Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two avoid exposure to television.)

Happy viewing!

Teeny-Baby Television (Ages 2 and up)

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Esme and Roy

HBO and Hulu

Esme, and her bestest pal Roy are monstersitter extraordinaires and use the power of play to ease monster tantrums in the town of Monsterdale.

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Blaze and the Monster Machines

Nick Jr. (free), Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes, and Vudu

A monster truck and his driver go on amazing adventures while learning about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

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Nella and the Princess Knight

Nick Jr. (free), YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google Play, and Vudu

Nella, an 8-year-old princess who transforms into a knight, goes on many adventures with her friends to fight for what’s right. (Nella is biracial—her dad is Black and her mom is white.)

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Reba to the Rescue

KweliTV and YouTube (free)

This sweet web series follows Reba as she goes about her life mission of “ensure[ing] the education [and] well-being of all! With her cape and large afro, she stands ready to love, help others learn, and love some more!”—all with a jazzy soundtrack.

Shows for School-Aged Kiddos (Ages 5 and up)

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Bino and Fino

Amazon, KweliTV, and Tubi (free)

An educational show that teaches children about Africa, Bino and Fino are a brother and sister duo who live in a modern Nigerian city.

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Motown Magic

Netflix

Ben is an 8-year-old with a big heart and an even bigger imagination. With his magic paintbrush, Ben brings the streets of Motown back to life with vibrant tunes from the historic musical era.

Calling All Tweens (Ages 8 and up)

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Cousins for Life

Nickelodeon, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, and Vudu.

Ivy and Stuart are cousins who live together and are learning about each other, saving the planet, and having fun!

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Black-ish

ABC (free), Hulu, YouTube, Google Play, Amazon Prime, iTunes

Dre and Rainbow “Bow” Johnson and their children tackle issues of cultural identity, race, and family while living in a white, upper middle-class neighborhood in Los Angeles. (And it was just announced that there’ll be a spin-off based on Bow’s childhood called Mixed-ish.)

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Raven’s Home

Disney (free with cable login), YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Prime, and Google Play

A spinoff to the original Disney series That’s So Raven!, this sitcom features best friends Raven and Chelsea as two divorced moms raising their kids (Booker, Nia, and Levi) together in a Chicago apartment. Turns out, Raven’s son, Booker, has the same psychic powers as his mom.

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Marvel’s Avengers Assemble: Black Panther’s Quest

Disney XD (free with cable login), YouTube, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu

Black Panther has to decide if he’s an Avenger first or if his loyalties ultimately remain to the people of Wakanda.

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Lab Rats

Disney XD (free with cable login), YouTube, Amazon Prime, iTunes, and Google Play

When Leo’s mom marries a rich inventor, he stumbles upon three super-powered teens living in a secret lab beneath his new dad’s home.

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Mech X-4

Disney XD (free with cable login)

Ryan awakens a robot that was built to protect the city against an impending catastrophe. In hopes of saving his city, his brother and best friends are Ryan’s only hope to help pilot the robot.

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Bunk’d

Disney (free with cable login), Netflix, YouTube, iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play

A group of preteens, including Skai Jackson who portrays Zuri Ross, head off to a summer camp at Camp Kikiwaka where all of their parents met years ago.

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Mama K’s Team 4

Netflix

Four girls, living in Zambia’s capital city of Lusaka, are hired by an ex-secret agent to save the world.


Teen Tube (Ages 13 and up)

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All American

CW (free app), Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, and Vudu

Inspired by the professional life of football player Spencer Paysinger, this drama series is chronicles Spencer’s transition from Crenshaw High School to Beverly Hills High.

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Black Lightning

CW (free app), Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, and Vudu

Vigilante DC comic hero Jefferson Pierce transforms into Black Lightning. With the help of his two superpowered daughters, Jennifer and Anissa, the family is on a mission to rid their hometown from crime.

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Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger

Freeform (free), Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, and Vudu

Two New Orleans teenagers, Tyrone and Tandy, both come from different backgrounds; however, a life-changing nuclear explosion brings the pair together to take down evil and destruction in their beloved city.

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Queen Sugar

OWN (free app with cable login), Hulu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu

Based on a novel by Natalie Baszile, the series chronicles the lives of three siblings who inherit their father’s Louisiana farm. Teenagers may be especially interested in the character of Micah, one of the sibling’s son.

Grown-ish

Freeform (free with cable login), Hulu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu

A spinoff to Black-ish, Zoey Johnson tackles all the complicated dealings of college life. Is she prepared to live and thrive outside of her parent’s nest?

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Marvel’s Runaways

Hulu, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu

A superhero team of teenagers fight two battles: one against their own parents and another against an alien group that’s planning to take over the world.

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On My Block

Netflix

Four teens in inner-city Los Angeles learn about friendship and how their lives will be tested as the enter a new chapter in their lives—high school.

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Dear White People

Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Vudu

Racial tensions escalate at a prestigious Ivy League college. Watch the drama unfold through the perspective of the campus’ Black students.

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The Chi

Showtime, Showtime Anytime, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, and Vudu

A coming-of-age drama about kids growing up on Chicago’s South Side, created by Emmy-award winner Lena Waithe.


Oldies, But Goodies

There’s nothing wrong with going to the vault. The following shows are no longer in syndication, but they still rank high on the quality meter.

Check your favorite streaming service or the public library to catch old episodes.

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Yo Gabba Gabba

YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, and iTunes

Learn about music and magic as you sing along to popular artists and dope tunes with DJ Lance Rock and five friendly monsters.  (Ages 3 and up)

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Reading Rainbow

iTunes and Amazon Prime

An educational series, hosted by LeVar Burton, that teaches young children to read and open their minds through books. Each episode highlights a specific book theme and recommends books for children to pick up from the library.  (Ages 3 and up)

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Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child

HBO Now, HBO Go, YouTube, iTunes, and Google Play

An animated anthology series of classic fairy tales that are told from various cultural perspectives.

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Gullah Gullah Island

Amazon Prime and iTunes

A musical children’s show inspired by the Gullah culture of Sea Islands, South Carolina.  (Ages 3 and up)

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Doc McStuffins

Disney Now (free), Hulu, iTunes, and Amazon Prime

Doc is a 6-year-old healer who makes sure that all her friends and stuffed animals’ health is in tip-top shape.  (Ages 3 and up)

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The Proud Family

Amazon Prime, iTunes, and Google Play

Share adventures with Penny Proud and her proudly wacky family.  (Ages 8 and up)

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Class of 3000

iTunes

Sunny Bridges teaches a group of music students in Atlanta’s Wesley School of Performing Arts.  (Ages 8 and up)

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That’s So Raven

Disney Now (free with cable login), YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Prime, and Google Play

Raven Baxter, a teenage girl, has psychic premonitions––some that get her and her friends in lots of trouble.  (Ages 11 and up)

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Everybody Hates Chris

Hulu and CBS (free)

This comedy is based on the real-life preteen and teenage experiences of comedian Chris Rock.  (Ages 11 and up)

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Moesha

DirecTV

Mo to the, E to the… An American sitcom featuring teenage R&B singer Brandy Norwood, Moesha navigates high school, friendships, and relationships from her home in the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.  (Ages 11 and up)

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The Boondocks

Hulu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, and Vudu

Based on Aaron McGruder’s popular comic strip, this satiric animated series tackles all the biggies–lifestyle, racism, pop culture, stereotypes, and socioeconomics—from the perspective of two young boys voiced by Oscar-award winning actress Regina King. (Ages 16 and up.)

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Afro Samurai

Crackle

What happens when a Black samurai has a mission to avenge his father’s death in feudal Japan? Note: Based on a Japanese manga series, the television show doesn’t shy away from graphic depictions of violence.  (Ages 18 and up)


Didn’t see any of your favorite shows that star Black leads? Drop the name of the show, including a brief description and the network where the show appears.

TONYA ABARI IS A FREELANCE EDITOR, WRITER, CONTENT STRATEGIST, AUTHOR-IN-TRAINING, AND HOMESCHOOLING MAMA. SHE IS A MULTIPOTENTIALITE, ADVOCATE FOR REALISTIC AND DIVERSE PORTRAITS OF MOTHERHOOD, LOVER OF INCREDIBLE STORIES FROM ORDINARY PEOPLE, AND AN INTERMEDIATE JUGGLER OF ALL THINGS. YOU CAN READ ABOUT TONYA ONLINE OR FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM.