'He's Brown Like Me': Netflix's Raising Dion Lets Kids of Color See Themselves as Superheroes
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‘He’s Brown Like Me’: Netflix’s Raising Dion Lets Kids of Color See Themselves as Superheroes

Note: This tale initially ran in February 2020, as component of a Black Background Month collection. Amidst the continuous civil discontent around the nation, TELEVISION Overview is re-publishing this tale and also others like it to assist cultivate better understanding and also understanding around concerns of racial justice.

Jayan Bouknight has actually seen nearly every superhero program and also motion picture there is. The 10- year-old Bostonian suches as Superman since he can fly, and also he admires Thor since he can toss his magic hammer. Yet when the analytical fourth-grader switched on Netflix to discover something to enjoy late in 2014, the streaming solution supplied him a brand-new sort of superhero to appreciate– one that looked, spoke, and also imitated him. The collection, Raising Dion, informs the tale of a young black kid birthed with superhuman capacities, and also Jayan was hooked from the minute he saw its thumbnail on his search display.

“I like that he’s brown like me,” claimed Jayan, that is half black and also half Indian. He encouraged his double bro, Aman, to enjoy, and also currently they’re both consumed. “His mom freaks out like my mom, and he plays with Legos like I do,” Jayan claimed. “I saw what kind of powers Dion has, and I loved it, and I binged every episode in, like, two days. I would’ve binged it in one day, but I couldn’t because of my bedtime.”

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Based Upon Dennis Liu’s comics and also motion picture except the exact same name, Raising Dion was adjusted by Carol Barbee for Netflix, where it premiered in October and also took place to end up being the 10 th most preferred collection of 2019, according to the banner’s positions. The household dramatization complies with a dedicated mom called Nicole (Alisha Wainwright) as she battles to maintain a task and also back her bright 8-year-old boy, Dion (Ja’Siah Youthful), after the fatality of her other half, Mark (Michael B. Jordan, that is likewise an exec manufacturer). Nicole’s parenting obligations end up being extra extreme when she uncovers that Dion can suspend himself and also things in midair, fish without a post by making the fish levitate, and also protect himself versus harasses by tossing them about with his mind.

The program belongs to a social change within the globe of superhero enjoyment. Years after white superheroes stroked onto displays, Hollywood representations of black and also brownish superheroes are ultimately multiplying, and also the firms producing these movies and also programs are profiting. Black Pantherwas an enormous ticket office attract 2018, generating $1.3 billion. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which included a black and also Puerto Rican variation of Spidey called Miles Morales, earned $3755 million and also won the Oscar for Finest Computer Animated Function. As well as HBO’s comic-inspired Watchmen, which starred Oscar-winner Regina King as a concealed vigilante, was the network’s greatest brand-new attract almost 3 years, acquiring a remarkable 7 million audiences per episode.

Ja’Siah Youthful, Raising Dion


At the same time, varied superhero reveals focused on youngsters are ultimately ending up being extra widespread– with the similarity Netflix’s Raising Dion, Anime Network’s Steven Cosmos and also Teenager Titans Go!, and also Disney Network’s upcoming Moon Woman and also Adversary Dinosaur– and also using a target market that traditionally has actually been underserved. For the very first time, youngsters of shade have the ability to see on-screen superheroes that appear like them.

Raising Dion takes this depiction an action additionally, producing a personality that needs to deal with a difficulty his white precursors never ever did– and also one that may strike near residence for a few of the program’s young audiences and also their moms and dads.

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In the program’s 3rd episode, which is perhaps its toughest installation, a white instructor thinks Dion is at mistake for a battle; in reality, a white kid in Dion’s course took a watch that had actually come from Dion’s late daddy. Luckily, an understanding black scientific research instructor action in to stop Dion from obtaining put on hold. Like all way too many black moms and dads, Dion’s mother understands that it’s time to have “the racism talk” with her kid.

“Sometimes, other people, they’re going to be afraid of you,” Nicole informs Dion in the episode.

“Because I have powers?” Dion asks.

“No, this isn’t about powers,” she claims. “This is about people treating you differently because of the color of your skin.”

“I thought Dr. King fixed that,” Dion claims.

“He fixed some of it,” Nicole replies.

When Los Angeles mother Sylvia Wilson viewed the racist instructor scene with her youngsters, it took a minute for her 8-year-olds, Spencer and also Alaina, to find out what was taking place, she claimed. “The kids asked why the teacher was so mean to Dion and so kind to the bully kid,” claimed Wilson, including that she and also her other half, that both are black, have actually discussed bigotry with their youngsters in the past. “I turned the question back to them and asked them why they thought that might be, and I asked them how is Dion different from the other boy. First, they said he has superpowers. But then they said, ‘He’s black, and the teacher was mean because he thought all black people are bad.’ After that, they got sad and quiet at the thought.”

Alisha Wainwright and also Ja’Siah Youthful, Raising Dion


Wilson claimed the reality that her youngsters– and also Dion– really did not right away believe the instructor was racist is a sort of progression by itself. “I picked up the teacher’s vibe immediately since I grew up going to predominantly white schools,” she claimed. “I knew as soon as he opened the door that Dion would be the focus of his wrath. Dion had an ally in his science teacher, a barrier to the biased and punitive reaction. I didn’t have allies to stand between me and blatant racism.”

She included that the program acted as an excellent design for just how to go over bigotry with youngsters. “I loved how his mom explained racism to him, first building him up to lessen the blow of how the world is ready to knock him down based on the color of his skin,” she claimed, applauding the collection for “showcasing progress.”

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Cynically talking, the shade of a superhero’s skin can not protect young Generation Z-ers from the bigotry, sexism, and also prejudice that penetrate our globe. Yet youngsters require to see representations of themselves increasing over life’s challenges and also progressing when faced with difficulty, claimed Paul Bashea Williams, a family members specialist and also writer based in Washington, D.C. “Youngsters of shade can see themselves act out their desires [while] supplying a feeling of normality and also connection,” Williams claimed, including that it is essential to develop risk-free areas for black and also brownish youngsters to really feel wonderful and also one-of-a-kind. He likewise kept in mind that racial predispositions within youngsters are usually substantiated of partition and also an absence of direct exposure to various other societies– as revealed by the oft-cited doll examinations of the 1950 s and also the CNN-commissioned examination of2010 Personalities on programs like Raising Dion can bring youngsters of various races with each other with an usual passion– superheroes. “Most kids want to be superheroes,” Williams claimed. “It allows kids to imagine their fears being conquered.”

Charlese Antoinette, the outfit developer for Raising Dion, has actually seen the outcomes of favorable depiction direct many thanks to her individually communications with young followers of the program. Antoinette, that likewise worked with the Spike Lee and also Netflix science fiction, See You The other day, lately talked with a team of 50 trainees at a Boys & & Girls Club in Cleveland. “There were elementary school-aged kids and even high school students, mostly black, and they all wanted to talk about the show,” she claimed. “I had no idea it would affect them this much.”

Ja’Siah Youthful, Raising Dion

Tina Rowden/Netflix

Antoinette claimed she questioned a few of the youngsters also recognized why they were so influenced by the program. “Kids are excited to see themselves reflected on the screen, even if they don’t know that’s part of why they’re excited about it,” she claimed. “I don’t think all of them are making the connection at such a young age. Just seeing a young black kid who is into science and Legos and comic books is exciting on top of the action and the story.”

Such is probably the situation for 8-year-old Bentley Lewis, a Raising Dion follower that is half Mexican and also half black and also stays in Los Angeles. Bentley claimed he does not respect the hero’s race; he cares that Dion does the important things he does and also suches as the important things he suches as. “He’s smart, and he can play basketball and swim,” claimed Bentley, that likewise suches as Aquaman, Captain America, Captain Wonder, and also Cyborg. “I liked when Dion was dunking on the big kids. And he has lightning in his hands.”

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Perhaps that’s progression, as well. Besides, Bentley and also his generational peers are the very first youngsters of shade to be able to take shade for given when it pertains to their enjoyment. For these young followers, most of whom were birthed right into a globe where a black guy was head of state, seeing black superheroes on TELEVISION is not cutting edge. Rather, it’s something that’s constantly belonged of their lives– which is precisely the sort of brand-new typical a lot of authors and also supervisors of shade are functioning to develop.

Over on the contrary shore, Jayan claimed he seems like he can associate with Dion greater than a few of his various other heroes; nevertheless, he kept in mind, Thor and also Superman never ever need to manage individuals’s responses to the shade of their skin. Yet mainly, Raising Dion makes him envision himself as a hero– and also think of what he would certainly perform with superpowers of his very own.

“I would turn into a dragon and shoot lava out of volcanoes by moving my hands,” Jayan claimed, fantasizing large. “I’d shoot the lava at the bad guys and save the day.”

Raising Dion is currently streaming on Netflix. A Period 2 best day has yet to be introduced.

For Black Background Month, TELEVISION Overview is commemorating black superheroes in TELEVISION and also movie. As component of The Increase of Black Superheroes, we’re recognizing the traditions of leaders like Luke Cage, Battle Device, and also starlet Eartha Kitt; checking out just how blackness forms the identifications of personalities like Iris West, Black Lightning, and also John Diggle; discovering what today’s black heroes imply to youngsters of shade; and also commemorating the best black superheroes of perpetuity. You can look into even more material from The Increase of Black Superheroes below.

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