The famous children’s show Sesame Street is determined to talk about race whether we like it or not. Their latest terrible example is the introduction of two African-American Muppets to “educate children about race.”
On March 23, the educational series introduced two new Muppets in an online video. As part of the series "ABCs of Racial Literacy," Elmo talks to 5-year-old Wes and his father Elijah about race and what it means to them. Elmo asks the two why their skin is dark and Elijah explains that it’s because of melanin and how “the color of our skin is an important part of who we are.”
In an official statement, Kay Wilson Stallings, Executive Vice President of Creative and Production of Sesame Workshop, commented on the video saying:
“Sesame Workshop has always stood for diversity, inclusion, equity, and kindness. As a trusted source for families, we have a responsibility to speak out for racial justice and empower families to have conversations about race and identity with their children at a young age. The work to dismantle racism begins by helping children understand what racism is and how it hurts and impacts people. Sadly, today’s announcement comes at a time of racial and social discord when many families are in need of support in talking to their children about racism. We’re proud to reaffirm our Coming Together commitment to racial justice, which will be woven into new Sesame Workshop content for years to come.”
Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, the Senior Vice President of Sesame Workshop, also commented stating, “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.” The addition of black Muppets apparently will help “foster open, age-appropriate conversations among families and support them in building racial literacy.”
Color me skeptical but telling kids that skin color is “an important part” of them doesn’t feel like it’ll end racism. In fact, suggesting that children can inherently judge others by race is far more racist than anything I’ve seen lately. Besides, we all know that the “racial justice” they’re talking about is the BLM abolishing the police variety. It always is.
Also, considering the most famous characters are colors not seen in the human race, Elmo (red), Big Bird (yellow), Cookie Monster (blue), and other more human-like characters like Bert (yellow) and Ernie (orange), was there really anyone really whining about Muppet color representation? And it’s not like Sesame Street was lacking in actual black characters beyond ones made of felt. How can a show that premiered in 1969 somehow think it’s more racist in 2021?
I can’t answer those questions, but Sesame Street will be sure to avoid them. And then they’ll claim it’s racial justice.