Watch Smarter

The Racist History of Cartoons

Many classics have disturbing roots.

Watch Smarter is Slate’s series that teaches you to spot hidden tropes in pop culture and beyond. Watch all episodes.

Nostalgia and familiarity may have trained us not to notice, but many elements of the classic cartoons you love—down to the white-gloved hands—have a disturbing history. In this episode of Watch Smarter, we examine how the cartoons we revered growing up were rooted in blackface minstrelsy.

Based on the research of Professor Nicholas Sammond at the University of Toronto.