The “Sesame Street” franchise added two new muppets to tackle race and racism in a way that children will be able to understand.
This week, Black muppets Elijah and his 5-year-old son Wesley were introduced to viewers during a nearly three-minute segment titled “Explaining Race.” The clip sees the two engaging in a conversation about Black identity as they take a break from their afternoon stroll. When approached by Elmo, who asks them about the color of their skin, the new Muppets explain the concept of melanin.
“The color of one’s skin is an important part of who we are, but we should all know that it’s OK that we all look different in so very many ways,” says Elijah.
He later uses autumn leaves to explain the power of all races coming together. “When people of all colors come together, we stand strong, like this tree,” he tells Elmo.
Sesame Workshop — the nonprofit organization behind the children’s television show — has been working toward racial justice with their Coming Together initiative. “Explaining Race” with Wes and Elijah is one of many learning tools available in “The ABCs of Racial Literacy” — resources launched by the nonprofit to “develop children’s understanding, curiosity, resilience and empathy,” and help parents start conversations with their children about race and racism.
“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,” said Jeanette Betancourt, a senior vice president at Sesame Workshop. “‘The ABCs of Racial Literacy’ is designed to foster open, age-appropriate conversations among families and support them in building racial literacy.”
She continued, “By encouraging these much-needed conversations through ‘Coming Together,’ we can help children build a positive sense of identity and value the identities of others.”