Inclusion and Representation in BrainPOP Content
Last Updated on June 9, 2021 by Ilana Kurizki
Editors’ Note: This post is updated regularly.
We believe it’s important to conduct regular critical analyses of our content to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion. Research shows that kids benefit from seeing themselves represented in popular media and educational materials. It is validating and affirming, especially for kids from marginalized communities.
An inclusive curriculum prepares students to be participants in a vibrant and diverse democracy, by exposing them to a wide range of viewpoints, cultures, and identities. It helps cultivate values like open-mindedness, empathy, and cultural sensitivity.
As educators, we have an ethical responsibility to present topics accurately. This includes incorporating information and perspectives that standard narratives previously ignored due to bias.
We’ve increasingly prioritized new topics and revisions that highlight diverse cultures and perspectives as well as incorporate new scholarship. Tim, Annie, and Ben now share the stage with three additional narrators: Nat, Cassie, and Rita.
We know we still have a lot of work to do. We consider these topics a step in the right direction—but only the beginning.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, here are some of the new topics and revisions that align well with our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Native American History and Culture
- Native American Traditions (redo): An updated introduction and overview of Native peoples in what is now the U.S.
- Thanksgiving on BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. (redo): These topics detail the meeting between the Wampanoag nation and the settlers of Plymouth, deconstructing some common myths about Thanksgiving; both developed with scholars and members of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.
- Wounded Knee Massacre (update): An update to include more context on U.S. policy toward the Lakota in the years before the massacre, including forced assimilation through Indian Boarding Schools.
- California Missions: The story of the Spanish colonization of California and the subjugation of the Native peoples there.
- Pocahontas (redo): An updated look at one of our country’s best-known—and most mythologized—Native American women.
- Lewis and Clark (update): The story of the Corps of Discovery, highlighting several of the Native peoples they relied on to survive their historic journey.
- Jamestown, Parts 1 and 2: The story of the first permanent British settlement in the Americas, from both the British and Powhatan perspectives.
- Seminole Wars (update): An update to our story of the “Unconquered People,” the only Native American nation that never surrendered to the U.S. government.
- Reservations (coming soon): The story of how tribal sovereignty and treaty rights have shaped the unique status of Native nations and reservations in the U.S.
We’ve been working with Native Studies advisor Kerri J. Malloy (Yurok/Karuk Tribes), a lecturer in the Department of Native American Studies at Humboldt State University. He is helping us revise and expand our Native America unit, as well as connecting us with experts and scholars from specific nations to consult on topics that touch their stories.
We’re also incorporating Indigenous perspectives into U.S. history topics, particularly in the colonial and early American period. Recent topics include Building the Thirteen Colonies, Regions of the Thirteen Colonies, and Jamestown, Parts 1 and 2. Bacon’s Rebellion coming soon!
Black History and Culture
- Tulsa Race Massacre (redo): The story of the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma—a place of pride, opportunity, and achievement for its Black residents—that was destroyed by a mob in 1921, in one of America’s worst episodes of racial violence.
- Juneteenth: The story of the holiday many call America’s “true Independence Day”—commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S.
- Fannie Lou Hamer: The story of the voting rights activist, created in partnership with the team behind the documentary Fannie Lou Hamer’s America.
- Black Lives Matter Protests: The protest movement that has been fighting for racial justice for years, which has swept the world in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
- Mansa Musa: The story of one of Africa’s best-known pre-colonial leaders, who built the Empire of Mali into a center of culture and learning in the Middle Ages.
- Women’s Suffrage (redo): The history of the fight for women’s votes, including its roots in abolition and the key role played by many Black activists.
- Haitian Revolution (coming soon): The story of the successful uprising of the enslaved people of Haiti, leading to the founding of the world’s first Black republic.
- Bacon’s Rebellion (coming soon): An exploration of the causes of the rebellion, and how it contributed to the growth and dominance of slavery in the American colonies.
We’ve significantly expanded our Black studies unit on BrainPOP, adding many new topics featuring biographies and historical events, including: Bass Reeves, Wangari Maathi, Barack Obama, Motown, Muhammed Ali, Malcolm X, Jim Crow, Underground Railroad, Tuskegee Airmen, and Reconstruction. On BrainPOP Jr., we offer Ruby Bridges, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Asian-American and Pacific Islander History and Culture
- Maya Lin: The life and work of the Chinese-American artist, whose design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. helped changed the way the nation mourns.
- AAPI Heritage Month Interview with Dr. Feng Zhang: This episode of BrainPOP News speaks with Chinese-American biochemist Feng Zhang, whose work has been instrumental in the development of CRISPR, a revolutionary genetic engineering tool.
- AAPI Heritage Month: The May segment of BrainPOP News honors prominent Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
- Lunar New Year on BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr.: The traditions of the holiday, with a particular focus on celebrations in China, Korea, and Vietnam.
- Japanese-American Incarceration (coming soon): The story of the imprisonment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.
- Allen Say on BrainPOP Jr. (coming soon): The life and work of the Japanese-American author whose inspirations include his own experiences and the cultures around him.
Latino History and Culture
- Día de Muertos: The traditions and celebrations of the Mexican holiday, from its roots in Aztec times to contemporary observances in North America and around the world.
- Aztec Civilization (update): A look at the mighty Mesoamerican empire.
- The House on Mango Street: An introduction to Sandra Cisneros’s novel, a modern coming-of-age classic.
- Latin Music (update): An updated tour of some of the most popular styles of Latin music.
- Sonia Sotomayor (coming soon): The inspiring story of the first Latina Supreme Court justice.
- Puerto Rico (coming soon): The history of the U.S. territory.
Representation in STEM
- Mae Jemison on BrainPOP Jr.: A celebration of the accomplishments of the first Black woman to go to space and an exploration of the work she continues today.
- Hubble’s 30th Birthday: A BrainPOP News interview with NASA Hubble engineer Morgan Van Arsdall and astrophysicist Dr. Quyen Hart in honor of the telescope’s 30th anniversary.
- Alan Turing: The story of the mathematician and codebreaker who helped the Allies win World War II, and who was punished for his homosexuality.
- Grace Hopper: The story of the computer science pioneer who forever changed the way we speak to computers and the role they play in our world.
- Wangari Maathi: The Kenyan biologist who started a movement—and won the Nobel Peace Prize.
- Rachel Carson: The life and work of the scientist whose research helped launch the modern environmentalist movement.
- Autism: A movie on autism spectrum disorder featuring the contributions of animal scientist Temple Grandin, as well as climate activist Greta Thunberg.
- Concept Maps on BrainPOP Jr.: Explores how to create mind maps to organize ideas and connect information, using the life and accomplishments of Sally Ride to demonstrate.
We recognize that our scientist topics and STEM offerings still skew overwhelmingly toward white men. We are working to diversify the scientists profiled in our topics, both in standalone biographies and as examples in discussions of scientific concepts.
LGBTQ+ History and Representation
- Pride 2021: A BrainPOP News interview with Ose Arhagan, a college student activist who’s working to make their community—and the world—a more inclusive and equitable place.
- Harvey Milk: The story of the gay rights advocate who became one of the nation’s first openly gay elected officials, plus the roots of the LGBTQ+ rights movement.
- Pride 2020: A BrainPOP News interview with Ellen Broidy, a co-founder of the Christopher Street Liberation March, which evolved to become the annual Pride parades we know today.
- Personal Pronouns (update): A rewrite of the grammar movie to be inclusive of a range of personal pronouns and individual pronoun preferences.
- Parenthood: A look at many different kinds of families and ways to become a parent.
Tolerance and Human Rights
- Holocaust (redo): A full remake of our Holocaust movie to directly engage the way genocide can happen in an enlightened society.
- Anne Frank: The story of one young girl’s experiences during the Holocaust and the diary that continues to touch readers around the world.
- Racism on BrainPOP Jr. (coming soon): A topic providing entry points into conversations about race and racism through concepts integral to the K-3 curriculum: identity, community, diversity, fairness, and empathy.
- Disability Rights: The 504 Sit-ins (coming soon): The story of a pivotal moment in the disability rights movement: the 25-day occupation of the San Francisco office of the Department Health Education and Welfare by a group of 150 people with disabilities in 1977. Their victory helped expand civil rights for disabled people and laid the groundwork for the Americans with Disabilities Act.
How do you incorporate questions of diversity, equity, representation, and inclusion into your lessons? How do you discuss potentially sensitive topics with your students? How has your approach changed over time? Do you have ideas for additional topics you want to share? We’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.