Sesame Street has always been great at introducing children to difficult subjects. When cast member Will Lee died in 1982, it dedicated a show to exploring the notion of grief. In 2019, it told the story of Karli, a green Muppet whose mother was struggling with opioid addiction. And now it is explicitly teaching kids to dismantle racism.
See Sesame Street journey to challenges racism:
• A new three-minute Sesame Street clip entitled Explaining Race debuted this week. In it, two African-American Muppets – Wes, a five-year-old, and his father Elijah – engage Elmo in a discussion about identity.
• At one point the father gestures to an autumn tree and says: “When people of all colours come together, we stand strong, like this tree.” It’s hoped that Wes and Elijah will be used to discuss race and racism in a more direct way than Sesame Street has done in the past.
• Sesame Workshop also released a music video to the song “Giant” featuring Wes, Elmo, Abby Cadabby and Rosita, who collectively sing about the importance of feeling “strong in their skin.”
• In October, “Sesame Street” taught children to stand up against racism in a half-hour anti-racist special, “The Power of We,” which defined racism for younger viewers and showed how it can be hurtful.
“At Sesame Workshop, we look at every issue through the lens of a child. Children are not colorblind – not only do they first notice differences in race in infancy, but they also start forming their own sense of identity at a very young age,” Sesame Workshop’s senior vice president Dr. Jeanette Betancourt said in the statement.