Representation means so much to our kids as they process their identities, and there’s absolutely no denying that Latinx and indigenous representation is still severely lacking in the entertainment world. Case in point: 89-year-old Puerto Rican actress Rita Moreno, was the only Latina actress to make an appearance at the 2021 Oscars. How insane is that?! It’s really had us thinking once again about the fact that despite there being a few prominent Latinx figures in Hollywood, we still can’t seem to grab a foothold.
We can certainly go on hoping that things will change as our kids get older, and that Latinx and indigenous representation will become widespread in their lifetimes, but the reality is, it’s probably going to take a lot longer than that to become the norm. So for now, we are going to continue going out of our way to find entertainment options for them that closely reflect who they are and the communities we live in. The next time our kids are on the hunt for a new show to watch, we’re going to point them in the direction of these cartoons, which all feature either Latinx or indigenous characters.
The Netflix animated series Carmen Sandiego, which was based on the PC games from the 1990s, is now in its fourth season on the streaming service. Although the character’s exact ethnicity hasn’t been made (though some fans claim, Argentinian-Mexican), she’s been identified as Hispanic and the current iteration of the super-sleuth is voiced by Puerto Rican actress Gina Rodriguez.
The Casagrandes: Ronnie Anne
Ronnie Anne is the Mexican-American lead character of the Nickelodeon series The Casagrandes, which is a spin-off of the popular series, The Loud House in which Ronnie Anne also appeared. Ronnie Anne, voiced by Izabella Alvarez, is a spunky, 11-year-old girl living in a multigenerational Mexican-American household in an apartment in a big, diverse city.
Carlos PenaVega voices her big brother, Bobby, Sumalee Montano voices her mother, a nurse named Maria Casagrande, and Eugenio Derbez is the voice of their father, a physician working in Peru
The Casagrandes: Charles Little Bull
Early in 2021, Nickelodeon announced that the character “Charles Little Bull” will be added to the cast of The Casagrandes, beginning with the show’s second season. He represents one of first characters in a major animated TV production in America that is identified as Lakota. He is a grad student in his twenties who is one of Tio Carlos’s best students.
Maya & Miguel
We are huge fans of PBS Kids and the various television series they offer that showcase children and families from diverse backgrounds, one of which is Maya & Miguel. The title characters are 10-year-old bilingual twins whose parents are from Mexico and Puerto Rico. The show mostly follows the antics of well-meaning Maya, who often finds herself in over her head.
Molly of Denali: Molly Mabray
Molly of Denali is another fantastic cartoon from PBS Kids. The educational series is about Molly Mabray, a 10-year-old Alaska native and her dog Suki. The show teaches kids about native culture as well as about geography and the many tools that can be used to navigate various terrains and sticky situations.
Although not a show, we have to mention Pachamama, a beautiful Netflix original animated film about an indigenous Inca boy from the Andes Mountains who dreams of becoming a shaman. Along the way, he learns the importance of family and community. One particularly notable aspect of the film, is that it discusses colonization and the Spanish conquistadors honestly.
Victor & Valentino
In the Cartoon Network show Victor & Valentino, two half-brothers of Mexican descent who are total opposites end up spending a summer together visiting their grandmother in a mysterious Latin American town where they learn all about the area’s folklore, myths and legends.
Nearly all of the characters on Netflix’s animated series Legend Quest are Latinx or indigenous. This adventured-themed show was created by Mexican animator Ricardo Arnaiz and is produced in Mexico as part of the “Leyendas” animated franchise. It’s a great watch for older cartoon-lovers who enjoy the fantasy genre.
Fast & Furious: Spy Racers: Cisco Renaldo
The beloved character Cisco Renaldo on Netflix’s original animated series based on the Fast & Furious franchise, Fast & Furious: Spy Racers, is of Latinx descent. As a member of lead character Tony Toretto’s crew of young undercover operatives, voiced by Mexican-American actor Jorge Diaz, Cisco is a prominent character on the fast-paced show. Notably, half-Mexican actor Tyler Posey voices the show’s lead character, and its fourth and latest season actually takes place in Mexico.
The Owl House: Luz Noceda
From enemies to frenemies to enchanted dance partners, who else loves seeing Luz & Amity’s relationship grow stronger? #TheOwlHouse pic.twitter.com/y9eXoXPSs7
— Disney TVA (@DisneyTVA) August 10, 2020
Luz Noceda is the 14-year-old Dominican-American lead character in The Owl House and the first bi character to make a Disney Channel series debut. Luz – voiced by Sarah-Nicole Robles – is an average teen who journeys through a portal to another world to become a bruja despite not having any magical abilities. While Latinx representation is limited LGBTQ+ is even more limited so a character like Luz is a huge step in the right direction.