Members of Grammy-winning rap group The Roots are collaborating with Disney Junior on a series of animated short films aimed at teaching children aged 2 to 7 about race, racism, and social justice issues.
Rise Up, Sing Out is set to be executive produced by The Roots’ Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter.
According to the Associated Press, Thompson and Trotter issued a statement. “We hope these shorts will encourage the young audience to recognize and celebrate our differences as human beings while learning the tools to navigate real-world issues of racial injustice.” They also stated that they hope to “empower and uplift the future generations in the way we know best, through music.”
Joe D’Ambrosia, general manager and senior vice president of Disney Junior, added that they recognize that children are “experiencing a multitude of feelings around what’s happening in our world today,” and the new project is aimed at helping parents discuss “sensitive issues around race” with their children.
According to D’Ambrosia, the series of short cartoons will provide parents with “the tools and knowledge to address these important topics with their preschoolers in an age-appropriate manner through music and relatable kid experiences.”
According to Disney Junior, an activist group called The Conscious Kid will consult on the project. The organization identifies itself as “dedicated to equity and promoting healthy racial identity development in youth.”
— Disney (@Disney) May 31, 2020
Rise Up, Sing Out is expected to appear on all Disney Junior platforms near end of 2021.
The announcement comes on the heels of a backlash over leaked documents showing Disney promoting critical race theory to its employees, promoting the idea that America has a long history of “systemic racism.” The company has become more political in recent years, publicly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Disney, on the other hand, has remained silent on its operations in China and the communist regime’s human rights violations.