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Jo Jo & Gran Gran: Britain’s First Black Animation And The Importance Of Cultural Representation

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Last week, CBeebies aired the first episode of Jo Jo & Gran Gran. It is a new animated series which follows the everyday adventures of a four-year-old girl cared for by her fun, wise grandmother.

What’s so special about it?, you might ask.

JoJo & Gran Gran is the first cartoon to explore a black British family. It’s not just about dark skin and fluffy afro hair, they speak with a thick British accent and set against a bustling backdrop of multicultural London.

Gran Gran (aka the grandmother obviously) takes care of the little Jo Jo (aka the baby girl) while her parents are at work, and she also teaches her about her Saint Lucian heritage and the Caribbean Island’s culture.

Where are you from, where do you call home?

The series is based on the homonym book series by Laura Henry-Allain, and each of the 44 episodes (11 for season), is inspired by the passing of time, covering topics such as life cycles, growth or activities like baking a cake or catching a bus.

It was about time, we all needed a program like this. Not only to remind us the importance of our grandparents and their unconditional love. No, we needed Jo Jo & Gran Gran because of the cultural representation their bring to our flat screens.

Thanks to this show, black children around the country may actually be able to grow up having memories of a cartoon that represents them to the fullest and that they can actually identify with. Cultural and racial representation is so important, particularly as it relates to our children, future citizens of the world.

She may not know that yet, but Jo Jo has a lot of pressure on her tiny fictional shoulders.

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