Television during “our day” was so amazing. The cartoons and sitcoms that we watched not only had depth to them, but many of them also contained a diverse cast. Even more surprising – a black cast! It’s a shame that such a thing is awe-inspiring—to me, at least—in 2017. I certainly hadn’t realized how great of a treasure these shows were when I would watch them as an eight year-old on my living floor. But now I see just how cool, how dope, and how woke many of these characters were. Here are six of my favorite!
Mo to the e to the! Moesha was the hippest, coolest, most keeping it real girl on television in the early 2000’s. She was the girl you wished you were friends with and, heck, she’s the girl you wish you are now. Not only was she the queen of box braids but, man, she had a new hairstyle each episode. Moesha embodied respect (to her parents), loyalty (to her friends), grace (to those who didn’t deserve it), and self-worth. She knew exactly who she was and she was never willing to compromise that for anyone or anything. And homegirl was no stranger to speaking up about what was on her heart. Take the episode where her white English professor crossed several lines by actually referring to her and her best friend Niecy as “homegirls.” Moe was not down with her professor’s racially inappropriate comment towards her and Niecy or him stereotyping the only Asian girl in the classroom and she called him out for it. She was “woke” before her time. Now that’s the kind of woman I aspire to be!
2. Static Shock and his homeboy
Static Shock (2000-2004)
He flies around on a disc, his hair is in locks, and he’s got electromagnetic superpowers that he uses to fight the strange, mutated villains that seem to plague his city. Despite him having every reason to be full of himself, superhero Static Shock (woop woop) is one shockingly laid back teenager. And his best homie, Richie, is a pretty cool guy as well. Actually, in their high school, neither of them are seen as cool. Virgil (his non-superhero name) and Richie are simply two under appreciated geeks on good day.
The Proud Family (2001-2005)
L-P-D-Z (that’s LaCienega, Penny, Dijonay, Zoey) is in the hizz-ouse! This show had the greatest ever pilot episode! It was the one where these fabulous four girls auditioned and performed on the Hip Hop Helicopter Dance Contest and killed it! This show was anointed in blackness and cultural diversity. It discussed serious social issues, educated its viewers about black history, and had regular celebrity cameos. I don’t know about you, but me and The Proud Family will always be tight!
Oh…and did I mention that Zoey was on the twerk team?
4. Arnold’s Black Friend (And Arnold)
Hey Arnold! (1996-2004)
Gerald Johanssen is honestly just cool. He’s in the fourth grade and yet he’s already got a nice edge to him. His high-top is nice and defined and he has a way of keeping Arnold in check, or getting him in a bit of trouble. And Johanssen isn’t the only cool cat in the fourth grade. Arnold himself is probably the chillest main character I can think of on television. He doesn’t expect too much out of life, puts others before himself, and maintains a monotone voice in any situation.
5. Kim and Stevie, Free Style Unity
The Parkers (1999-2004)
First of all, Kim and Stevie were LIT. How many friends do you have who are a part of an R&B trio? Probably none! I can barely get my friends to go see performances with me let alone BE the performers. Kim and Stevie were true creatives. They had a vision and they sought it. They never let the fact that they were “just college students” stop them from pursuing careers as the dopest hip hop & r&b singers at Santa Monica Community College. And though college proved it wasn’t Kim’s thing (she kinda failed), she didn’t quit altogether. She started her own fashion business and Stevie partnered with her! Now that’s black(ish) excellence!
6. Lemme hold a dolla guy
Everybody Hates Chris (2005-2009)
To all the “lil dude[s] from across the street”, hear me out. This guy’s last because, well, he’s always asking for money. We all know someone like him and we all try to unsee them when we spot them in public. But, he’s still a homie from the block and everyone’s gotta have a homie from the block. Why? Because they have the hook-ups! They know everyone. Need a haircut? He got you. Leather jacket? Done. Advice on how to be “cool by association”? Say no more. In fact, this guy always had the best advice for Chris when he needed it. Now if you need a dollar, he’s not the one. That’s your job.