We can barely get real life representations of ourselves on television, so it should come as no surprise that the same is also true with 2 and 3-D animation. But there are a few examples of black female cartoon characters. Here are some of our favorites below.
Penny Proud from “The Proud Family”
You’ll notice very quickly that all the characters on this list are vastly different from one another. Of all the women, Penny is who I relate to the most. A California girl trying to figure out her teenage years, Penny is a straight A student who is also on the football team and newspaper staff. She has two best friends Sticky and Dijonay. And though she loves her friends, she realizes that they are often at the root of the trouble she finds herself in. (Don’t we all know that story.) Penny is constantly trying to figure out how to obey her parents, stay true to herself and fit in with her friends and the folks at school.
LaShawn From Bébé’s Kids
When I tell you I can recite the entire Bébé’s Kids movie word for word, I am not playing. For instance, I can tell you that in the gif above LaShawn is saying “cute little girl but I fight like a man.” And that’s why I have to love her. What’s so great about Bébé’s Kids is that it informs people that just because children don’t come from a lot, act a fool in the streets and cause all types of chaos and confusion, it doesn’t mean they aren’t deserving of love and affection. In fact, they probably need more of it. (The movie also touches on the way in which minority children are targeted by authority figures just because they’re minorities. The realness.) What was so cool about LaShawn was that she was a softie but rough around the edges. If you’ve seen the movie, it’s so clear that she had a thang for lil Leon. Even though she’s a little different than Penny Proud, LaShawn was also designed by Bruce W. Smith. If you look closely, you’ll see it.
Susie Carmichael from “Rugrats”
I loved Susie back in the day. She was the Yin to Angelica’s Yang. As Angelica spent most of her time trying to manipulate the babies, Susie was kind to them and actually defended them against Angelica’s tyranny. And even though Susie was nice to pretty much everyone, that doesn’t mean she was a pushover. She often stood up for herself and spoke up when things weren’t right. I also really dug the fact that Susie brought some cultural education to the series during her Kwanzaa episode. And if you didn’t know Cree Summer, (Freddie from “A Different World”) voiced little Susie.
I’ll admit I’ve never seen this animated series. (My job gets in the way of my cartoon-watching.) But the news of a cartoon featuring a black, girl who aspires to be a doctor like her mother certainly didn’t escape me. Doc, whose real name is Dottie isn’t a real doctor yet but she has a knack for “fixing” toys that are broken. In addition to working with toys she also gives health advice to the kids who are watching. Really, there’s no way to lose with this one. A black girl in a lab coat, with a stethoscope around her neck is a good look any way you slice it.
Valerie From “Josie & The Pussycats”
Throwback! According to Wiki, the internet bible, Valerie is the first African American, female cartoon character to appear as a regular in an animated series in 1970-71. A huge deal right?! There was no way we could make this list without her. On the original series Valerie was easily the smartest girl in the band. She played the tambourine, was a mechanical wiz and was the voice of reason in the group. Respect.
Foxxy Love from “Drawn Together”
Now, let me forewarn you that Ms. Foxxy Love is not for everybody. In fact, she’s from the series “Drawn Together” which is and adult cartoon. Emphasis on the adult. Foxxy Love is actually a parody of Valerie from “Josie and the Pussycats.” Like Valerie she’s a bit of a leader in the group and is also a musician but the similarities stop there. Foxxy Love is a freak basically. Foxxy Love is…hood, has a loose grasp of the English language and is very in touch and very open about her sexuality. Her name pays homage to the blaxploitation characters Foxy Brown and Christy Love. And surprisingly, she’s voiced by Cree Summer.
If you want to know what she’s about take a look at the video below but beware, Foxxy Love is a lot to handle.
Princess Tiana from “Princess and the Frog”
Ooo Princess Tiana, or Ti Ti as I call her. As a child who loved Cinderella but found her standard of beauty a bit unattainable, I can’t tell you how excited I was when I learned that Disney was making a movie with a black princess. Some people, like my mom, were really in their feelings that Tiana was a frog for most of the movie but I think the message of her character, whether she was in human or frog form, was very clear. Tiana was goal oriented. Unlike the other princesses, her main aim was not finding a prince to rescue her but workign hard to get what she most desired. And it just so happens that she picked up a man along the way who was down to ride. How can you not love that? Tiana is the perfect example of having it all.
Cita from “Cita’s World”
When I was looking for an image of Cita, I stumbled across a post by Luvvie saying that BET still owes us an apology for Cita’s World. Eehh. Now no one in their right mind will deny that Cita was a walking, talking, bankhead bouncing stereotype. But I highly doubt that the people watching Cita’s World, black folk, didn’t know that. I think we’re discerning and experienced enough to know that Cita, an animated cartoon character who talks about music videos is not indicative of every black woman. That’s just silly. And I’m sorry but I’d dare anyone to look at a full episode of Cita’s World and not chuckle just a bit. Sure she was loud and tacky at times but she also had some quality commentary. I know most of us have friends who are thoughtful and talented but also a tad ratch.
Monie from “Hey Monie”
Monie is reason I don’t give BET too much flack for Cita. “Hey Monie” also appeared on BET for a very hot second before it went to Oxygen for an equally hot second. I guess people weren’t interested in Monie’s dry humor. And that’s sad. If I compare the two, Monie was nothing like Cita. First she had a softer more soothing voice and she was always dressed in clothes that covered probably more than they should have. Monie, was a career woman who worked at a Chicago advertising firm who experienced the perils and triumphs of being a single woman in the city. She also shared an apartment with a extroverted, more “hip” and trendy Yvette. Yvette always thought she knew the way to improve Monie’s life but in reality, she’d often lead her astray like in this episode where she tries to give Monie a makeover.
Gaia from “Captain Planet”
If you google Gaia, you’ll find all types of various skin tones, from peach to olive to straight up brown. But judging by the description of her character: “spirit of the earth possessing characteristics from all of the human races,” it only makes sense that Gaia would be a black woman. And since we know historically, black women aren’t always portrayed as black women, I’ll let you know that Whoopi Goldberg voiced this character. That’s undeniable blackness right there.
All of the characters from “Captain Planet” were naturally environmentally conscious. But Gaia was concerned about social consciousness as well. In one episode called “A Formula For Hate” Gaia and Captain Planet educated the kiddies, and hopefully some adults at the time, by explaining that you cannot catch HIV or AIDS from simply hugging or touching someone with the virus or disease. Important work that Gaia did.
Is your favorite black, female cartoon character on this list? If not, shout her out in the comments section.