Sesame Street is set to air a 30-minute special this month aimed at teaching children and families how to be “anti-racist.” The special will define “racism” for young audiences, and urge children to call out others who they suspect of being racist.
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, will air a half-hour “anti-racist” TV special, entitled, “The Power of We,” which will stream on HBO Max and PBS Kids, and air on PBS stations starting on October 15.
“When you see something that’s wrong, speak up and say, ‘That’s wrong’ and tell an adult,” advises 6-year-old Gabrielle the Muppet.
In one skit, a black Muppet is told by a white Muppet that he can’t dress up like a superhero because they’re only white. The black Muppet nonetheless refuses to stop playing superheroes, saying they can come in all colors. The white Muppet then apologizes. “Racism hurts and it’s wrong,” is the message.
“Hey, Elmo, how would you feel if I said, ‘I don’t like you ’cause I don’t like the color red?'” sings Tamir, a black, 8-year-old Muppet in a song, entitled, “How Do You Know?”
Elmo replies by singing, “Elmo wouldn’t care what you said ’cause Elmo is proud, proud to be red!” The song concludes with the line, “Speak up, say something, don’t give in.”
The puppets will be wearing masks during the special. Viewers are also offered tips for helping their communities unite against racism, such as chalk drawings and sing-a-longs songs. The special concludes with the slogan “Listen. Act. Unite.”
“We believe that this moment calls for a direct discussion about racism to help children grasp the issues and teach them that they are never too young to be ‘upstanders’ for themselves, one another, and their communities,” said Kay Wilson Stallings, executive vice president of creative and production at Sesame Workshop.
Sesame Workshop has also included online resources for parents to help guide conversations with their child about race, which includes talking, singing, and even breathing together.
“Not all streets are like Sesame Street. … What we are seeing is people saying 'enough is enough.' They want to end racism.”@Elmo’s dad Louie explains why people are protesting across the US. https://t.co/icV04F4FNW #CNNSesameStreet pic.twitter.com/1efrMAzZ8V
— CNN (@CNN) June 6, 2020
Indeed, Sesame Street has doubled down on race-related fare. Over the summer, Big Bird and Elmo “addressed racism” in virtual CNN town hall in the wake of the police involved death of George Floyd.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.