Is the kid from Dope, the real-life version of the CartoonSmart Kid?
So I better see this movie Dope, pronto. 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. Great trailer. And I just noticed the lead actor looks a lot like The CartoonSmart Kid, our long-time mascot. You may have seen him avatarring (<not a word apparently) CartoonSmart in our social media outlets and I made him marginally more famous by featuring him on the cover of my Cocos2d iBook (and he even made the Focal Press version of the book).
I’m sure the question on no-one’s minds is, who does The CartoonSmart Kid racially identify with? Well maybe it’s on one person’s mind: my own apparently. Its hard to avoid race-related news here in the US, and the topic of racial identification has been a big story with Rachel Dolezal. So is The CartoonSmart Kid light-skinned black, dark-skinned white, Spanish, Indian, Asian?? Bi-racial, tri-racial?… Well since I was there for the birth of The CartoonSmart Kid (I drew him), I’ll explain…
He started in black and white. I was doing a promotional Flash animation for my freelance website, and drew a bunch of characters that would have looked at home in a cartoon commercial from the 1950’s. So with just two colors to work with, the skin color was white and the hair was black. I loved the look of this particular character so much, I wanted to use him again for CartoonSmart, but he needed some color.
Although my memory is fuzzy, I’m guessing my first pass at coloring him was probably with the swatch in Adobe Flash closest to whatever my idea of Caucasian is as an RPG value. But fortunately that didn’t stick. And since this was 11 or 12 years ago, I don’t remember exactly how I landed on the color I did, but I do know the flat-top hairdo followed. Originally he had more of a Philip J. Fry hair swoop. I grew up watching shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and certain 90’s hair-styles (like the Beverly Hills 90210 side-burns I personally sport) will always bring back fond memories. Flat-tops were rad when I grew up. And I suppose if someone reading this were looking for a definitive answer to what race The CartoonSmart Kid identifies with, the flat-top might be the proof. Lets face it, few races can pull off a proper flat-top, and my own ain’t one of them.
But I would like to think though The CartoonSmart Kid belongs to every race. Simply, the human race. And if you are willing to see what is probably in front of you every day in public, we, meaning everybody on this planet, are heading toward coloring ourselves a beautiful human-race combination at a relatively quick pace. Not in one generation, maybe not in 10 generations but it probably won’t take that many more for this planet to just settle in on one year-round tan color of skin that represents the best of all of us. And lets not forgot just how amazing it is that any human can breed with any other. There’s nothing genetically stopping us from mixin’ it up. It sounds cliche but that really kinda proves our differences are skin deep. I’m sure some folks won’t like the sound of all this, because identifying with a particular race is (and should be) a source of pride, no matter what your race. It’s natural to cheer for the home team. You can’t be born and raised in Atlanta, and not cheer for the Falcons. You would be strange if you didn’t. And look what happens with a case like Rachel Dolezal who makes a choice to switch “teams”, so to speak. She becomes a news story. Same with Michael Jackson. It’s an oddity when you decide not to proudly represent your roots. I suppose for the time being that’s inevitable. But won’t that be the fun generations from now when humanity is even more racially mixed then we are now. When the majority of humanity’s roots can get traced back every which way or another. Our future children’s grandchildren will be able to comb through pictures and videos on Facebook and see their relatives looked like this, and their other relatives looked like that and that’s the norm. I would imagine those future-children will take pride across the board, and be enlightened knowing their ancestors lived and loved in an open-minded way which led to their creation.
So there you have it folks. The CartoonSmart Kid is actually a time-traveller from the future when no one cares enough to do the fractional math on figuring out what part of what race they are. So he’s just human colored. And flat-tops are back in style.