With Black History Month in full swing, it’s important to remember that the heritage, lineage and accomplishments of black people stretch beyond the borders of the U.S. of A. One place where this mode of thought has taken root, is in the children’s show Hip Hop Harry which stars an eponymous bear that runs an afterschool program at Hip Hop Central, where kids from varying backgrounds gather to have fun and learn through song and dance.
The creator of the show, Claude Brooks, was born from a Jamaican father, Dr. Harold Brooks and a Trinidadian mother, Marie Brooks. Brooks takes direct inspiration from his mother in the creation of Hip Hop Harry, since she had an African-Caribbean dance company that traveled around the world and a young Claude, who was one of the main drummers, would also travel. Due to being exposed to the world from an early age, Brooks sees black history as a world-spanning phenomena, and while elements of this can be seen in the DNA of Hip Hop Harry, such as the inherent multiculturalism of the cast, he also took the time to devote a whole episode to the idea, which you can view right now at https://youtu.be/CNTiQM9L83s, should you want to see the maternal Brooks in action.
The episode titled “Grandma Brooks” has Marie Brooks herself come on in a guest role, in which she plays the grandma of one of the characters on the show. Mrs. Brooks tells the the kids stories about the culture of Trinidad, which inspires them to make their own masks and put on a carnival in her honor. Through this, children consuming the show are exposed to new aspects of black history from another country, which broadens their horizons, and teaches them how rewarding partaking in, and investigating, other cultures can be.