“Sesame Street” has often introduced new Muppets to teach children about topics like autism, HIV and homelessness. Now, the show’s two newest characters, 5-year-old Wes and his father Elijah, will offer a lesson on race, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind the iconic children’s show, announced this week.
The show launched several new “ABC’s of Racial Literacy” resources to teach parents and children about race and racism. In one video, Elmo wants to know why his friend Wes’ skin is brown. Wes’ dad, Elijah, explains melanin.
“The color of our skin is important to who we are, but we should all know that it’s okay that we all look different in so many ways,” Elijah says.
“Things on the outside, like our skin color, our hair texture, our noses, our mouths and eyes, make us who we are. Many people call this race,” Elijah continues. “But, even though we look different, we’re all part of the human race.”
The characters also sing a song called “Giant,” which is “a celebration of pride, self-esteem, cultural diversity, and big dreams for children’s future,” Sesame Workshop says.
This is just one new learning resource that is part of Sesame Workshop’s Coming Together initiative, which is the nonprofit’s commitment to racial justice.
In another video, a character named Rosita experiences a racist incident in the grocery store. Rosita’s mom and her friend Sofia help her cope and celebrate speaking Spanish.
“Sesame Street” has several other Muppets that reflect people of color, including Tamir and Gabrielle, who are part of the “Power of We” club to celebrate their different identities and learn to become “upstanders” for racial justice.
The “ABCs of Racial Literacy” resources are meant to “develop children’s understanding, curiosity, resilience, and empathy — and to prepare for the task of building a better world by standing up, standing tall, and standing together,” Sesame Workshop say.
The Coming Together initiative “is rooted in extensive research and consultation with experts to develop a groundbreaking Racial Justice educational framework and curriculum for young children,” according to a press release. “Sesame Street,” which is known for its “science-based whole-child model,” will create new content, including its future seasons, that incorporates Racial Justice curriculum.