"But Why Though?": The Marginalization of Black Americans in Children's Media
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Expires on Aug 16, 2025
Credit Offered
1 CME Credit
1 COP Credit

Available: 08/16/2022 - 8/16/2025


FREE - $0
Funding for the Striving for Excellence Series was made possible by Grant No. H79FG000591 from SAMHSA of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by SAMHSA/HHS, or the U.S. Government.    

Throughout the years, technology has played a critical role in shaping thoughts and narratives into the 21st century; one of those areas of technology, media, continues to play a critical role in society’s development. This medium shares an experience with a group of people. Studies have shown that media portrayal of characters may influence attitudes in behaviors at the earliest ages of development. In 1971, Alfred Bandura expanded on classical and operant conditioning to include observational learning, which he demonstrated via the Bobo Doll Experiment. The basis of his experiment suggests children’s behaviors are learned from actions witnessed in their environment. His hypothesis later became known as the social learning theory (Bandura 1971). Based on the Bobo Doll Experiment which led to the concept of social learning theory and identificatory learning, viewers begin to imitate behaviors from media characters observed (Steinke 2016). 

Early media exposure’s influences key areas of the brain during the cognitive processing and regulation of what children are taking in. These processes are implicated in emotional regulation, preferences, behaviors, and internalization of social norms (Vinson 2021). Notable historical depictions including, Sambo, Uncle Tom, Mami, and Jezebel, were Black images in the film industry that brought to life stereotypic behaviors thought to be present in the Black community (Olson 2019). 

Over the years, Disney movies have continued to present trends in which Black characters lack evolution and development that mirror the current society. Throughout this presentation the movies: Soul, Prince and the Frog, and Spies in Disguise will be utilized as examples of this phenomenon since all three movies have “Black” lead characters, but in reality, they spend most of the film in another form. In addition, this presentation will also focus on how the villains in Disney films often have darker features that have been equated to negative connotations such as “evil, bad”. This notion is witnessed in the Clark Doll Study’s results which showed children identifying dark skinned dolls as “bad” and later self-identifying with the dolls (Clark 1941). The study was replicated by CNN “AC360” in 2010 which highlights the continued stereotypical viewpoints of colorism and how it is developed at a young age (Cooper 2010). 


Recorded webinar, non-interactive, self-paced distance learning activity.

This presentation was recorded on August 11, 2022.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify examples of Black marginalization through the roles of Black lead characters in children’s films and media. 
  • Describe the impact of the controversy regarding the representation of Black Americans on the screen. 
  • Discuss how darker features as it pertains to the villains convey an unconscious notion that darker individuals are evil/bad and how it shapes Black children’s view of self. 
  • Demonstrate how Social Cognitive Learning theory and how images children see impacts their view of self. 

Target Audience

Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Physician (non-psychiatrist), Physician Assistant, Medical students and other mental health professionals  

Estimated Time to Complete

Estimated Duration: 60 minutes
Begin Date: August 16, 2022
End Date: August 16, 2025

How to Earn Credit

Participants who wish to earn AMA PRA Category 1 Credit or a certificate of participation may do so by viewing the live presentation and completing the evaluation. After evaluating the program, course participants will be provided with an opportunity to claim hours of participation and print an official CME certificate (physicians) or certificate of participation (other disciplines) showing the event date and hours earned.        

Continuing Education Credit


The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.        

The APA designates this live activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Faculty and Planner Disclosures

The American Psychiatric Association adheres to the ACCME’s Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Medical Education. Any individuals in a position to control the content of a CME activity — including faculty, planners, reviewers or others — are required to disclose all relevant financial relationships with ineligible entities (commercial interests). All relevant conflicts of interest have been mitigated prior to the commencement of the activity.   

Program Presenters

  • Kamille Williams, MD, is a metro Atlanta native. She received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at Spelman College before pursuing her medical degree at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN.  She completed her General Psychiatry Residency training at Morehouse School of Medicine before fast-tracking into the MSM CAP fellowship where she is one of the program's inaugural fellows. Dr. Williams has been a part of several national organizations and committees including being an APA Child Psychiatry Fellow and fellow member of the APA Ethics Committee. Dr. Williams has no financial relationships to disclose.    

  • Sheritta Carmichael, MD, is originally from Pennsylvania, she moved to Georgia at a young age and has called this home ever since! After graduating high school, she went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in biology at the University of Georgia. Dr. Carmichael went on to attend medical school at Mercer University School of Medicine in Savannah, Ga. She moved to Asheville, NC where she completed the first three years of her psychiatry residency. Dr. Carmichael decided to pursue her passion of providing mental health to children and adolescences, so she decided to do a fast-track program for fellowship. Dr. Carmichael has no financial relationships to disclose.    

  • LeRoy Reese,PhD, is a research scientist whose work focuses on the intersection of health status and quality of life by examining how behavioral and physical health are influenced by social determinants of health embedded within the community.  His work has focused on under resourced communities to improve the quality of life for these residents to have fuller lives.  He is a professor at Morehouse School of Medicine’s Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health and co-directs their Pediatric Clinical and Translational Research Core.   Previously he was a senior scientist and Section Chief at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Reese has no financial relationships to disclose.  

  • Hasani Baharanyi, MD, has no financial relationships to disclose.    

Program Planners

The following planners report no financial relationships with commercial interests.

  • Kamille Williams, MD, LeRoy Reese, PhD, Ebony Harris, MS, Sheritta Carmichael, MD, and Hasani Baharanyi, MD

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