Representation in Circus Town

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day today, I thought I would address representation on our show. This is something I feel strongly about, and I have from the very beginning of our story.

It’s no coincidence that our protagonist, Sally Spangles, is multiracial. She’s a mixed kid with a black mom and a white dad. It’s no coincidence that our protagonist is a girl. Why? Representation. The main point of the show is to ignite curiosity about physics, through the arts. Physics and arts are STEAM topics- that is, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math.

Women, and especially women of color, are still underrepresented in grown-up STEAM pursuits. They experience high levels of bias based on their gender and color. (In this study, 100% of women of color in STEM fields experienced gender bias, higher than the still-depressing 93% of white women in STEM.) That’s not ok. I fully believe in the power of children’s television to make the world a better place. Physics and the arts are for everyone. We want kids everywhere to see a little bit of themselves in Sally, to imagine themselves living and playing in Circus Town.

In my own quick Google search for the generic term “scientist stock images,” the results were depressing. In the top 50 images to come up, there were 11 women, 8 men and women of color, and 38 white men. The first 15 images returned were of white men in lab coats. This is the current face of the word “scientist”.

In her blog for Huffington Post, Marian Wright Edelman coined the phrase “It’s hard to be what you can’t see.” She goes on to say that inclusion of children of color in children’s books is not only a matter of representation, but of global connection for all children. In my opinion, connection is the fastest way to knock down walls of misunderstanding in society. We can relate, we can communicate, and we can consider each other as equals.

It comes back to the words of King, ringing true throughout the generations. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character.” Here in Circus Town, we’re going to keep dreaming that dream.

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