Mainstream entertainment, especially for kids, rarely reflects the diversity of the U.S., which is on its way to becoming a majority-minority nation among those under the age of 18. Last year, 52 percent of children in the U.S. were white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2060, only 35.6 percent of children in the U.S. are expected to be white.
Despite the racial makeup of kids in the U.S., the majority of children’s books feature white protagonists, according to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin Madison. On television, less than 10 percent of entertainment programs aimed at children feature main characters of color, according to kids’ entertainment company RainbowMe‘s research. That’s problematic.
“I know from personal experience how it was to be able to see The Cosby Show — and, until recently, that was a great comparison — and see people who look like you doing great things,” Johnson recently told TechCrunch.
In fact, the self-esteem of black girls and black boys decreases with TV consumption, according to a 2012 study published in Communication Research. That’s probably because there are so few positive images of black people in mainstream media, which is something RainbowMe is trying to address. At its core, RainbowMe is a children’s entertainment platform that offers content featuring diverse characters, with a focus on Black, Latino, Indian and Asian kids. Geared toward kids ages two to 12 years old, RainbowMe provides entertainment recommendations for video, games, books, music and other activities based on age.
“[RainbowMe is] really to make sure kids see positive reflections of themselves and don’t put limits on themselves,” Johnson said. “And that people don’t put limits on people of color.”
Back in April, CODE2040, a nonprofit organization that supports diversity and inclusion, selected RainbowMe as one of three startups to receive $40,000 in seed funding and free workspace as part of its Entrepreneurs-in-Residence pilot program. Still, RainbowMe is currently looking to raise $35,000 on Indiegogo to license additional content and further develop the platform. At the time of publication, the campaign had raised $22,354 from 228 people.