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Pet Sins April 2001

Blacks, Asians and Arabs in American animation

All-colored" cartoon series

In the 1970s and 1980s, there were cartoon series featuring an all-colored (or almost all-colored) cast of characters, like Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, The Harlem Globetrotters (black American characters), The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan (Chinese American characters), and Arabian Knights (Arab characters in a fantasy setting). Whatever their pros and cons, these series have all but disappeared in the 1990s.

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids

The Multiracial Superhero Team
The 1990s see the advent of more "multiracial" superhero teams like
  • Sky Surfers - a team consisting of a Japanese American woman, an African American man, and three European American men
  • Mortal Kombat - a team consisting of a European American woman, an African American man, a European American man, a Native American man, and three East Asian-type characters - 2 men and one woman. Nationality for the East Asians are not specified since two of them come from another realm.
  • Street Fighter - an international team led by an European American man. Includes Asians, Latinos and Europeans. Has no major black characters.

Black and Asian characters have already been present as part of cartoon hero teams in the 1980s and earlier. Both the 1980s and 1990s Jonny Quest series feature Jonny's best friend and constant companion, the Asian Indian Hadji. There is Storm (a black woman) in X-men, and Bruce Sato (a Japanese man) in Mask.

The Bionic Six The "at least one black person and at least one yellow person" formula for composing a team appears to be more widespread in the 1990s. The one 1980s cartoon series which fits this formula is the Bionic Six - a superhero family consisting of an European American couple, their African American son, Japanese American son, European American daughter and European American son. Bionic Six is a U.S.-Japan joint venture. While it busts some stereotypes in having the black son, IQ, as the most intelligent member of the family, the yellow son Karate-1 fits the stereotype of the martial artist yellow male.

Yellow Men and Black Women Recede in the 1990s

Arguably, the stereotype of the kungfu-fighting yellow male is still better than the stereotype of the weak, geeky, emasculated yellow male. This stereotype was present in New Mutants, where the sole East Asian character was a wheelchair-bound genius. 

Mulan In the 1990s, no cartoons/comics contain fighting-fit East Asian men is except for Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Mulan. Cartoons featuring East Asian fighting-fit women now outnumber those containing fighting-fit East Asian men: Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Mulan, Titan A.E., Sky Surfers.

East Asian female characters have already been used at least twice in the last decade as the white hero's love interest - Titan A.E., Batman Beyond. East Asian male characters, however, are yet to be paired with non-East Asian female characters.

Storm of X-men continues as the rare black female representation. Lina of Street Sharks is a black female in a supporting role - brains but no brawn. Black men still hold central roles in cartoons. Jay is one of two central characters in Men in Black. Jax is a key character in Mortal Kombat. Both Men in Black and Mortal Kombat have key female white characters but no major black female characters.

All this appears to be part of the media campaign to promote Asian-woman-white-man unions and black-man-white-woman unions in an effort to weaken and disintegrate black and yellow communities. The propaganda battle spills over into our TV sets and children's programs.

2000