Couple's cartoon aims to fight racism

Financial backing needed for television, Internet broadcasts

September 07, 1999|By Jamal E. Watson | Jamal E. Watson,SUN STAFF

Gerard and Sharon Robinson say they have seen their share of racism.

Growing up in Queens, N.Y., in the 1960s, Gerard Robinson, 36, -- who is part Native American and part black -- was constantly interrogated by people in his neighborhood about his ethnic heritage.

"People would often ask me what color I was. After a while, I just told them that my color wasn't important."

That's the message the Robinsons want to spread. For eight years, the Elkridge couple have been promoting their idea of creating an animated network television show featuring superhero characters who fight to save the world from racial injustice.

"We decided that we wanted to do a cartoon because we believe that cartoons can serve as an effective tool to thwart the hate-mongers that live among us," said Gerard Robinson, a technical designer who has been writing the proposed series with his wife in their spare time.

The Robinsons say the series is needed. They offer as examples the recent shootings of children at a Los Angeles Jewish center and the racially motivated killings this summer of a black former basketball coach in Illinois and a Korean graduate student in Indiana.

Inspired by their sheltie, Nikki, the couple have written more than 12 half-hour episodes for the proposed show, which would be called "M-DOG."

The adventure series focuses on a pack of dogs that, through their actions, help convince mankind that racism should not be tolerated.

"Dogs don't really discriminate," said Sharon Robinson, 36, a sales representative. "They're just friendly."

Racism was etched into her consciousness when she was young. She says she remembers seeing a black man lynched while she was living in segregated Mobile, Ala., during the height of the civil rights movement. Police concluded that the Ku Klux Klan was responsible.

"That was really devastating," she recalled. "I couldn't believe that this was happening."

Circulated

With the help of their friend and promoter, Clayton N. Duhaney, an executive at Not Pickin' Cotton Productions, a Prince George's County company that markets minorities hoping to break into the entertainment business, the couple's manuscript has been circulated to network producers across the country. Plans also are being made to broadcast the shows over the Internet on the Robinsons' Web site.

"This television series would be a great vehicle to spread a positive message," Duhaney said. "It's a good idea, but, unfortunately, it still needs lots of financial backing.

"It's also a great way to reach young people. If we as humans are to make it into the next millennium, we must learn to get along with one another today."

The Robinsons have received letters from Maryland Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes, both Democrats, expressing support for their idea. And White House officials working on President Clinton's Initiative on Race also are interested.

Seeking celebrities

"We believe in this project," Sharon Robinson said. "We just keep at it because we know that we can make a difference."

The couple plan to seek help from celebrities such as Bill Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg, Spike Lee, Oprah Winfrey and Robin Williams. They think Cosby, Williams and Goldberg would make excellent character voices if the show gets off the ground.

"We want to make a change. We want to end racism," Sharon Robinson said, glancing at their 3-year-old son Zachary. "We don't want our son to grow up living in a racist society.

"We have passion for this project, and we believe that one day our project is going to get on the air. And we believe that one day racism will be eliminated."

Information: Send e-mail to ylem13@aol.com or visit the Robinsons' Web site at www.fortuneci ty.com/lavender/eraserhead/ 311/.

Pub Date: 9/07/99

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