Keeping in-theme with the first PSA’s self-awareness, the newest Steven Universe short features Pearl of the Crystal Gems as she breaks character while recording an educational video about the inventive minds behind the lightbulb. While most everyone knows Thomas Edison to be the inventor of the light bulb, the reality is that the innovation wouldn’t have been possible were it not for the work of an oft-ignored Black draftsman.
Lewis Latimer, a Black, Massachusetts-born draftsman and one-time colleague to both Alexander Graham Bell and Edison, is the man who actually developed the filament that allowed the idea of accessible, energy-efficient lightbulbs to be created in the first place. As Pearl explains in the short below, it’s shameful that he and other Black figure’s places in our history are often sidelined or erased entirely to create comfortable, white narratives.
It’s rare that the significance of Latimer’s idea for more efficient light bulb filaments is taught about in schools, and it’s seldom that his contributions are ever presented with the important context necessary to understand why his work was important. But, being the righteous know-it-all that Pearl is, she can’t stop herself from seizing upon the in-universe teachable moment to explain how notable Black figures are all too often erased from the historical record which has traditionally been maintained by and written from the perspective of white people.
Steven Universe is now streaming on HBO Max.
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