Sesame Street leads the pack on educating children about inclusion, social issues, and kindness, and now, with their newest special, “The Power of We,” they will teach children how to stand up against racism. The special, composed of little skits and songs in a Zoom-like format, will stream on HBO Max and the PBS 24/7 streaming channel on October 15, and air on PBS Kids the same day.
The half-hour special defines racism for younger viewers, shows how it can be hurtful and urges children who encounter racism or hear someone else be the victim of it to call it out directly. “When you see something that’s wrong, speak up and say, ‘That’s wrong’ and tell an adult,” 6-year-old Gabrielle the Muppet advises.
In the song “How Do You Know?” Elmo tackles racism with a friend. “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. Elmo responds, ”Elmo wouldn’t care what you said ’cause Elmo is proud, proud to be red!”
In another animated skit, a Black Muppet is told by a white Muppet that he can’t dress up like a superhero because they’re only white. Even though feelings are hurt, the Black Muppet refuses to stop playing superheroes, and says that they can come in all colors.
Over the summer, Sesame Workshop - the nonprofit, educational organization behind “Sesame Street”- coupled with CNN for a Town Hall called “Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism.” The Town Hall centered around the nationwide protests after George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police.
“The Power of We” expands on the work the show began over the summer, demonstrating Sesame Workshop’s dedication to incorporating inclusivity in its storylines and diverse cast of Muppets, human cast members, and guest stars.
“Sesame Street has the ability to entertain children while explaining complex issues like no other program and equips families and caregivers with the support they need to have empathetic conversations,” said Kay Wilson Stallings, Executive Vice President of Creative and Production at Sesame Workshop in a statement.
“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.”
Sesame Workshop has included online resources for parents to help guide meaningful conversations around race with their child, including talking, singing, and breathing together. There are also downloadable pictures to color and a certificate with a place to put the name of an upstander.
It’s never too young to be an upstander.