Despite the increase in media available today for Black children, one startling fact remains true: as of 2022, 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, children’s media company with Black superheroes and princess characters that entertain, educate and empower Black children. Child psychologists, teachers, and parents all rave about the positive effects these characters have on the self-esteem of children.
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 Briana, a girl born into royalty whose story teaches Black children important lessons about self-image, self-esteem, and beauty.
“My goal is to fill the voids in children’s media that negatively affect our community by producing entertaining products that lets our kids see themselves as superheroes and princesses,” creator Yaba Baker said.
Baker, a D.C. native who attended Hampton University, grew up in the height of Washington, D.C.’s worst era of crime and violence. After experiencing the death of nine friends before the age of 21, 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.
A Super CJ animated short film is currently in production due to be released in early 2023 and is the first film to be released from Just Like Me World’s new animation studio. Baker will be doing the same with his Princess Briana character and his Kindra & Deloren action hero adventure. Baker is currently in talks with different streaming networks but in order to secure a placement on these networks, Baker needs to show that the content is wanted and needed. That is why the company set a goal of 100,000 subscribers to their YouTube channel by the end of the year. Buying the books from Amazon will also help Just Like Me World and Baker.
“I have dedicated my life to making things better for Black children and Black teens. It pains me to know that there are still kids going through the same thing that I went through when I was young so I am committed to making life better for them,” Baker said. “We will be the first major children’s media company that is Black-owned the world has ever seen,”
Just Like Me, Inc. is not a new company. Its first titles were published in 1996, titled The Just Like Me Series, the initial set of books and focused on educating children about Black history before slavery and the contributions of Black people to fields like science, engineering, and mathematics dating back 6,000 years. Titled The Just Like Me Books, this initial set of Black History activity books has received media attention from local and nationally recognized media outlets such as BET, The Washington Post, and Upscale Magazine among others.