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.)
Teeny-Baby Television (Ages 2 and up)
Reba to the Rescue
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)
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)
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.)
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.
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.
Mama K’s Team 4
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)
Editor’s Note: Many of these suggestions may depend on your comfort level with your teenager watching content about sex, alcohol, drugs, and other “adult situations.” Those shows have an asterisk by them—but you can read parents’ reviews on Common Sense Media. These could be shows you watch as a family to unpack some of the heavier topics.
Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger*
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.
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.
On My Block*
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.
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.
Class of 3000
Sunny Bridges teaches a group of music students in Atlanta’s Wesley School of Performing Arts. (Ages 8 and up)
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)
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.)
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.