Growing up, black representation was few and far between. With black leads only making up five percent of television, it was difficult to find someone who looked and act liked us, reflected on screen. Even more so, if you were looking at animations. Although, despite the lack of prominent representation, there were a few black cartoon characters that made the experience of growing up worthwhile.
From Storm's fierce relentlessness to Frozone's disarming charm, these are the top ten black cartoon characters that make our inner child scream black girl (and boy) magic.
1.Ororo "Storm" Munroe (The X-Men)90s marvel GIFGiphy
Making her debut over 45 years ago, Ororo "Storm" Munroe is hands down the best cartoon depiction of what it means to be a black superhero. Despite the live action movies constantly getting her wrong—remember when Halle Berry had an accent and then suddenly didn't—the origins of this character is worth exploring. Daughter of a Kenyan tribal princess and an American journalist, Storm was orphaned at a young age. As a result, she spent time as a petty-thief before choosing to use her power for good. With the abilities to control the weather (Atmokinesis), witchcraft, telepathic resistance, and eventually godhood, Storm is one of the strongest mutants in the X-Men universe.
Not only is she a powerful superhero, but she is also a compassionate one, often using her powers to stop man-made or weather-related disasters. Nevertheless, despite being an interesting and omnipotent hero, Storm is often overlooked in films and cartoon adaptations. Although, now that Marvel has obtained the rights to X-Men, hopefully this will change in the near-future. With the care that the Marvel Universe gives towards their superhero stories, there is a good chance that will see the Storm we all deserve on the big screens soon.
2.Virgil "Static Shock" Hawkins (Static Shock)Giphy
Get up, get up, gotta go. Gotta get up, get up, gotta go. Here we go!
Static freaking Shock was the best thing about childhood cartoons. Premiering almost 21 years ago on WB, and 28 years ago in the comics, Static Shock is the pseudonym of teenage superhero, Virgil Hawkins. Made a social outcast due to his high intellect, Hawkins was subjected to constant ridicule and bullying from his peers. After a particularly harsh beating, Virgil attempts to get payback, where he was ambushed by the cops and sprayed with supernatural tear gas, which resulted in Hawkins obtaining electromagnetic mutant abilities. He later chooses to use his abilities to save those of Dakota City from both supernatural beings and petty criminals. Despite being an interesting superhero and having an enticing origin story and series, there hasn't been many adaptations of the cartoon/comic book character. Though, that looks like it might be changing soon.
During the DC Fandom last August, Reginald Hudlin teased an upcoming Static Shock film. Not long after, in October 2020, Blank Panther's Michael B. Jordan announced that he would be producing the Static Shock DC Superhero movie adaptation. There is still no word on who will be playing Static Shock or when the movie is set to production, but regardless of when it does, I'm sure it will do what it has always done: put "a shock to our systems" that will never run out.
3.Numbuh 5 (Codename: Kids Next Door)
"We are the Kids Next Door, Numbuh 4! We save kids. That's our job."
A job well done, indeed. Saving us from the sheer boredom of weekends at home was the infamous and adventurous Codename: Kids Next Door. Voiced by showstopper in all things black, Cree Summer, Numbuh 5 was the best KND member around. Second-in-command, due to her relaxed nature and wicked intelligence, Numbuh 5, or Abigail Lincoln if you dare, was the only African-American teammate of the codename crew. Taking all of her missions seriously, Numbuh 5 used her book and street smarts to help execute successful operations.
Numbuh 5 was a fun character from KND. Balanced perfectly between wholehearted earnestness and plain absurdity (refusing to give up a treasure chest of candy), she often created hilarity in the foil of her character. Numbuh 5 was the first of few black female cartoon characters that was given more than background roles to play. With a good amount of the episodes surrounding Numbuh 5 and her relationship with others, it was no wonder why we were all glued to our TVs. And because they respected her enough to develop her character to be more than just her race, there is no doubt that "We're going to be Kids Next Door [fans] forever."
4.Penny Proud (The Proud Family)Mad The Proud Family GIFGiphy
Sing it with me: She's Penny Proud, she's cute and she's loud. And she gots. It. Going on.
Let's be real, you sung that in the proper cadence without me even having to mention the where to find the video. Between its original airing times, the movie, Destiny's Child and Solange Knowles' theme song, its promised revitalization on BET, and the reruns on Disney+, The Proud Family is a show that is hard to forget. It's an even harder show to put down, despite the show's final episode premiering nearly 16 years ago. The Proud Family follows the family and friends of 14-year-old Penny Proud who live in Wizville, California. Confident and fearless, Penny spends most of her time seeking out what she wants and relentlessly achieving those goals. As a jack of all trades and master of none, most of her adventures are sporadic and varying in degree.
One moment she is a pop singer, traveling the world, and the next she is attempting to babysit her siblings who insist on going on adventures of their own. With every episode being something new to explore, your journey with the Proud Family will be like traveling with your own dysfunctional family. A show ahead of its time, The Proud Family had all black families, smiling from ear to ear and glued to the TV. After all, what's better than seeing yourself reflected back on television?
Though the show follows protagonist, Penny Proud (voiced by Kyla Pratt), it is hard to watch it without acknowledging all of the characters that make us so damn proud to watch it in the first place. With Suga Mama putting her feet in everything, Oscar's constant yelling, Trudy's insistence on keeping her family together, the twins' escapades, the Gross Sisters' thieving, and Dijonay's unreliability—except in her love for Sticky, this show was only meant to succeed.
5.Frozone (The Incredibles)the incredibles animation GIF by Walt Disney StudiosGiphy
Frozone probably had the total of thirty minutes of screen time in The Incredible movies combined, but in those thirty minutes, he knew how to steal a show. Known for his "where's my super suit" scene and Samuel L. Jackson voice, Frozone was a Black cartoon character that we just simply can't forget. As a longtime close friend to Mr. and Mrs. Incredible and surrogate "Uncle Lucius" to the kids, Frozone was essential to helping the Incredibles fight villains. With his ability to create ice and freeze surfaces with his hands, he often got himself and the Incredibles out of situations when super-strength just wouldn't do. Despite not seeing him nearly as much as we hope in The Incredibles and its sequel, a little birdie (Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures) says that they plan to release a Frozone film as the prequel to The Incredibles movies. Thus far, it looks like Samuel L. Jackson will return to voice the role, alongside Zoe Saldana, Jordan Peele, Kimberly Adair Clark, Tracy Morgan, and Craig T. Nelson.
6.Riley and Huey Freeman (The Boondocks)
The Boondocks was a show that everyone just happened to find. Without a single amount of advertisement, rhyme, or reason, every night around midnight and two, you'd find yourself in front of the television laughing at these children, who behaved like anything but. Between Riley and his constant need to buck the system and Huey and his endless need to dismantle it, The Boondocks offered an adult animation from the perspective of children. Children, who at most times, behaved better than the adults. And man was it beautiful ride.
Balancing itself perfectly between offensive and woke, The Boondocks offered a comedic outlook on how African-Americans see themselves and the world they live in. Voiced by Regina King, John Witherspoon, Gary Anthony Williams, and other various stars and guests, The Boondocks discussed topics of Blackness in a comedic and objective way. Whether they were talking about the first Black President, systematic racism, peer pressure, perms, or the Civil Rights Movement, The Boondocks was a show that knew what story it wanted to tell and just how to tell it. Now in the political climate where it is necessary to have Black stories told, The Boondocks is seemingly set to return for the 2022 television season on HBO Max. This means more stories of the Freeman family and friends navigating the world both carefully and carelessly, and we're over the moon to see it.
7.Libby Folfax (Jimmy Neutron)Own It Jimmy Neutron GIF by NickelodeonGiphy
Liberty "Libby" Folfax is one of five central characters in Nickelodeon's Jimmy Neutron. Although, when the show first premiered it didn't seem this way. Clearly unsure of what to do with her character, in the early seasons, Libby was often seen, but rarely heard. She could be found in the background or in Cindy's shadow offering very little lines with even less substance. Nevertheless, this was rectified in season three of the beloved television show, and with this came the endless joy of Libby Folfax. From discovering her ancestor was an Egyptian queen to fashion model turned werewolf, and eventual dictator, Libby was given one interesting story after the other for little Black girls to fall in love with. With her candid personality, inability to lie, and levelheadedness, Libby was often a breath of fresh air in a show that thrived on endless chaos.
8.Susie Carmichael (The Rugrats)nicksplat rugrats GIFGiphy
Susie Carmichael was the absolute best. She was kind, caring, witty, and most importantly, she read Angelica for filth. Though she didn't appear in Rugrats nearly as much as she should've, when she did, Susie stole the show. First appearing in the 1993 episode, "Meet the Carmichaels," Susie quickly showed herself to be a promising character. Bright, friendly, fun-loving Susie was often put against Angelica, showing that she was willing to be supportive of Tommy and the crew's adventures. Ever the protector, she often stood up for the babies when bullies would attempt to get in their way and showed herself to be a character worthy of admiration. Eventually Susie and her family were given their own-spin off, The Carmichaels, nevertheless due to the Rugrats and All Grown Up universes, the series was axed due to continuity issues, leaving Susie and all her glory behind.
9.Princess TianaNew Orleans Food GIF by DisneyGiphy
To be honest, I am indifferent towards Princess Tiana. Admittedly, this indifference has nothing to do with Princess Tiana herself, but everything to do with The Princess and the Frog. I found it frustrating that when given the first chance to have a Black princess, Disney doesn't actually make her a princess, but a damn frog for the majority of the film. As if it couldn't get worse, the film's use of voodoo, jazz, and African-American dialect reflected the Black community in some unflattering light. Regardless, this is not meant to bash the Disney film that came out nearly 12 years ago, instead it's to mention and appreciate the only thing they managed to get right: Princess Tiana.
Voiced and sung by the amazing and disgustingly under-appreciated Anika Noni Rose, Princess Tiana is the first Disney princess who creates her own wealth, dreams, and manages to not be saved by a prince, or any man, for that fact. With her lively number of "Almost There," Princess Tiana encourages young Black girls to be driven and hardworking, as she works towards her goal of fixing up an old sugar mill to pursue her dream of creating her own restaurant. She constantly faces challenges, from being a social outcast to being a Black woman in the 1920s, yet she remains unshakably true to herself and her dreams, while dealing with the pressure of others. Despite the movie's issues, Tiana makes for a worthy heroine to root for and reflects the magic—and sometimes burden— of being a Black woman accurately and well.
10.Garnet (Steven Universe)steven universe garnet GIFGiphy
"Take a moment to remind yourself to take a moment and find yourself."
If you're looking for a strong, fierce, and clever character development, look no further than Steven Universe's Garnet. A fusion of the Ruby and Sapphire, Garnet is one of the most dynamic characters on this innovative and daring show. As the leader of the Crystal Gems, she is known to be a pragmatic, blunt character, though she rarely thinks a situation through before acting. With her combined size and strength, Garnet makes for a formidable hero against the show's biggest and baddest villains.
And with her old (yet youthful appearance) age, comes limitless wisdom, which she isn't afraid to share with her Gem family and audience alike. Garnet teaches young Black girls to be outwardly and unapologetically themselves, despite the expectations forced on them by society. Not to mention, she is voiced by singer Estelle, which makes her songs soulful and enticing to listen to.
Featured image via Giphy
- A Different World Cast, Where Are They Now? - xoNecole: Women's ... ›
- 14 Black AF TV Show Characters That Are Our Forever Natural Hair ... ›
- The Best Black Cartoon Characters of All Time ›
- Black Girl Cartoon Characters We Can All Relate To — Blk Girl Culture ›
- 19 Cartoon Characters Every Black Kid Grew Up Admiring ›
- Top 10 Black Female Cartoon Characters – Black Girl Nerds ›
- 39 Best Black Cartoon Characters From All Generations - That Sister ›
Taysha Robinson is a writer and high school English teacher, based in metro-Atlanta. A self described philomath, you can find her reading books and articles of every genre, attending educational conferences, and hiking wherever the terrain will allow.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s people who perform songs, and then there’s performers, and let me tell you something: Victoria Monét is a PERFORMER. I first fell in love with her as an artist after hearing her hit song “Moment,” and then when her album JAGUAR was released in 2020, I was hooked. JAGUAR was one of those albums that I kept on repeat as I and the rest of the world were going through the motions of being in a pandemic. I remember watching her perform her single “Jaguar” from the album on her YouTube channel, and the way she performed so effortlessly with such confidence, I knew I had to see her live.
Luckily, I got the opportunity. Along with dropping JAGUAR II, which features the viral single “On My Mama,” Victoria also announced The Jaguar Tour, and as soon as the tickets dropped, it quickly sold out. I attended her Atlanta show at the Buckhead Theatre, and besides being met with a sea of concertgoers from wall to wall, my ears were immediately hit with a beautiful voice from none other than Alex Vaughn, who opened for the mother of one. Once Alex finished her set, it was time for the main event.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
As soon as Victoria stepped on stage, it was hers. She commanded the room with her sultry voice and hypnotic dance moves, performing songs from albums JAGUAR I and II and previous projects such as Life After Love, Pt. 1. Fans were singing her songs word for word to the point where, at times, you no longer heard her singing. However, it was clear that she was in a room filled with love and support, and she also showed it back on stage. The singer rarely took breaks in between songs and dazzled fans with her smooth moves that is reminiscent of the legendary Janet Jackson.
One of my favorite moments was when she performed “Cadillac (A Pimp’s Anthem).” She dressed in a trench coat and fedora, complete with her pimp cane, and another big moment was when she performed “Stop (Askin’ Me 4Shyt)”. Overall, it was nice to vibe out to live performances of some of my personal faves like “Ass Like That,” “How Does It Make You Feel,” “Alright,” and “Big Boss.” In a recent cover story for Galore, Victoria revealed what she hopes concert attendees walk away with.
“On tour, I really wanna give people the best version of Victoria on stage, better than I’ve ever been before. I’m hoping people have the time of their life at the show,” she said. After working behind the scenes as a songwriter for so long, the California native now has all eyes on her, and it’s clear she was ready for this moment.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Paras Griffin/Getty Images