Disney Junior is tackling race and racism in a collection of new musical shorts called Rise Up, Sing Out. Executive produced by Grammy-winning artists Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter (pictured left) and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (pictured right), the 2D-animated series is produced by Lion Forge Animation.
The project’s 10 x two-minute episodes explore social justice, race and racism through original music from the duo, who are part of hip-hop group The Roots. Rise Up, Sing Out will premiere later this year on all Disney Junior platforms. Thompson and Trotter are executive producing through their Two One Five Entertainment studio, alongside Disney Television Animation director Latoya Raveneau (The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder), who also serves as showrunner.
Nonprofit organization The Conscious Kid, which teaches children about inclusion and race, is consulting on the series and will develop an accompanying educational guide. The org has partnered with Nickelodeon and YouTube Kids in the past to create resources and content around race and racism.
Rise Up, Sing Out is one of a number of new kids shows starting to address racism, but there’s still a gap, particularly for younger viewers, says Lion Forge Animation president Carl Reed.
“People understand the need for this, but it’s still rare to see shows tackling these subjects—like racial injustice—that are typically thought to be advanced for the preschool age,” says Reed.
Preschool content tackling racism is beginning to pop up, though—Sesame Workshop has launched a content package featuring videos, online resources and new songs, with the aim of dismantling racism. And Netflix is adapting children’s book Antiracist Baby into a series of musical vignettes for preschoolers.
It’s important that companies not shy away from these topics, and it’s exciting to get to explore them with Disney, says Reed.
“It’s clear that more than ever, all families need to talk about these topics—even if they’re not directly affected by them,” says Reed.