Changing faces on children’s cable programming : the emergence of racial and ethnic minorities as lead characters on Nickelodeon and Disney Channel 1996-2005




Blassingille, Brandi Naomi

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Although children’s programming has been considered to be at the forefront of incorporating racial and ethnic diversity, the roles on television for racial and ethnic minorities have continued to be limited or based on stereotypes, and sheer presence in numbers for non-whites is still lacking in comparison to white characters. Television programming during the 1990s and early 2000s became a key period in history for racial and ethnic representation, as programming as a whole reflected a greater non-white presence than ever before, with children’s programming as no exception. This thesis focuses on how race and ethnicity were depicted on the children’s cable networks Nickelodeon and Disney Channel during this time period. My study focuses on three programs, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo (Nickelodeon, 1996-1998), Taina (Nickelodeon, 2001-2002), and The Proud Family (Disney Channel, 2001-2005), all of which placed racial and ethnic minorities as lead characters, diverging from the standard in casting for children’s television programs. In observing whether these programs portrayed race in an assimilationist, color/culture conscious, or post-racial manner, my study provides insight into the overarching narrative constructed about race and ethnicity for youth viewing two of television’s most successful networks committed to programming for kids in this time period.



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