Despite the increase in media available today for Black children, one startling fact remains true: as of 2021, there are still no popular Black children’s superheroes. Popular Black princesses have almost the same status — nonexistent or few and far between.
But before you begin to despair, fear not — because there is a Black-owned, child-focused publishing company with Black superhero and princess characters who both want to help Black children grow to become the best version of themselves.
Just Like Me, Inc. creates books, half-hour cartoons, and animated movies featuring characters of color that appeal to audiences around the world. Their two, star characters are Super CJ, a Black boy with super strength that saves the world from peril, and Princess Brianna, a girl who is born into royalty and whose story teaches Black children important lessons about self-image, self-esteem, and beauty.
“My goal is to fill voids in our community by producing entertaining products that let kids see themselves,” creator Yaba Baker said.
In addition to Super CJ and Princess Brianna, Baker is preparing to add two action heroes to his lineup of empowering characters; a pair named Kindra and Doleren.
Baker is a D.C. native and Hampton University graduate who says he grew up in the height of Washington, D.C.’s worst era of crime and violence. After experiencing the death of 9 friends before the age of 14, Baker says he entered his twenties depressed, lost, and hopeless. After being in the uplifting environment of an HBCU and a few positive chance encounters, Baker says something clicked — and he became dedicated to helping Black youth see positive futures for themselves.
“My whole life is surrounded around trying to make things better for Black children and Black teens. It just pains me to know that there are kids going through the same thing that I went through,” he said. “We want to be the first major Black media company for children the world has seen.”
Just Like Me, Inc. is not a new company. Its first titles were published in 1996 focused on educating children about Black history before slavery and the contributions of Black people to fields like science, engineering, and mathematics. Titled The Just Like Me Books, this initial set of Black History activity books have received media attention from local and nationally recognized media outlets such as BET, The Washington Post, and Upscale Magazine among others.
Baker believes in his books so much that he offers a money-back guarantee with all book purchases. He says the company has been in business for so long because Black representation in children’s books and media is still not where it should be.
“If we don’t catch it at four, five, or six, those holes just grow,” Baker said, speaking of self-love and representation in media. “Then you see problems at 15 and 16. Well, those problems started at four, five, and six. We have to combat white supremacy before it gets rooted in our kids.”
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