Cartoon Network is proving that an audience is never too young, or old, to be educated about racial equality—in this case, with a new anti-racism PSA.
Although officially released a week ago, a clip of a new PSA Cartoon Network posted to TikTok is now being widely shared across social media platforms. The PSA features Cartoon Network show “Steven Universe” character Pearl challenging viewers to ask themselves exactly what they are learning in classrooms—and to keep in mind who is telling the story.
We see Pearl (voiced by DeeDee Magno Hall) speaking to a classroom of students, with a powerful message to share:
“These textbooks are incomplete,” says the alien. “There were Black Roman warriors, Black medieval knights, Black classical musicians, Black cowboys, Black fighter pilots. Where are they? I worry about you humans. 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.”
Since sharing the clip to TikTok on Monday, the post has seen nearly 200,000 likes and 5,000 comments on the platform. On Wednesday, the clip began trending on Twitter with approximately 50,000 tweets and millions of video views.
Among the individuals who are sharing the TikTok spot are retired professional basketball player-turned-influencer Rex Chapman and fashion designer Kenneth Cole. Barnes & Noble also said “thank you.”
The clip is part of a PSA called “Tell the Whole Story” in which Pearl gives a new kind of history lesson. Cartoon Network says the PSA was developed in partnership with clinical psychologist Dr. Kira Banks, who is also a co-founder of the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity and served as a racial equity consultant for the Ferguson Commission. She also hosts the vodcast “Raising Equity” that focuses on raising children with equity mindsets.
It’s one of a series of “Steven Universe” anti-racism PSAs that the network first announced in October. Each one features a different “Steven Universe” character and aims to enlighten viewers on how racism affects people. The show itself is progressive, often addressing LBBTQ+ issues.
The videos, developed by “Steven Universe” creator Rebecca Sugar, who also happens to be the first woman to independently create a show for Cartoon Network, and “O.K. KO! Let’s Be Heroes” creator Ian Jones-Quartey, are being released bimonthly on the networks’ social channels and at crystalgensspeakup.com, a website the network created around the effort that also provides more information and materials about racism. The first PSA, “Don’t Deny It, Defy It,” addressed the importance of understanding the impact of racism.