I am VERY concerned with what my toddler consumes. We don’t have cable and I try to watch every video, show and/or movie he watched before he does. Same goes for books. My partner and my partner’s family think that I’m a bit kooky. Lol
Well, I found out that what I’m doing is exactly right and it’s working! One of the approved videos is a Disney short on John Henry (it’s also on Netflix). This version is problematic (for example, there are two white people that could be seen as “bad” and both are shown in a way that doesn’t allow you to see the color of their skin clearly while the “good” white people populate the short) but has passed by toddler test. Lol
For those of you that don’t know, the legend of John Henry, this version is told by John’s wife to her son. She mentions she and John being enslaved, the emancipation proclamation, setting out to find a place to live, and them finding a railroad that’s offering land to anyone that will work until the line is finished. John Henry is a strong man that’s worked with a hammer his whole life. When the new steam machine shows up, he challenges the machine to a contest. John wins the contest, with encouragement from his wife, but does from the physical exertion. The wife is telling the story to the son from the porch of the house they live in on the land that John got for them. It’s a sad ending but here are the good points of the story:
- It’s a child-friendly way to explain that many Black people in the US were enslaved.
- It introduces the concept of the emancipation proclimation.
- It shows a Black couple that love and support each other.
- It shows a Black man in a position of leadership.
- It shows a loving mama and her cute little son.
I wish that John didn’t die but the positive themes are enough to want him to see it … and see it, he does. He watched that video at least two or three times a day. He knows the song and celebrates (while holding his own hammer) when John wins the race.
Toddlers copy what they see. I’m so happy that he’s copying a wonderful example of a Black man that loves his Black wife. He works hard, but laughs. He’s strong, but gentle. You can say what you want about me being overbearing (and I might agree) but it’s working. It’s really working.