'Sesame Street's Anti-Racism Special Aims To Teach Kids How To Speak Out
To help give kids the tools they need to speak out in difficult but important situations, Sesame Street is airing an anti-racism special this week. Airing on Oct. 15 on HBO Max, PBS Kids, and PBS stations, The Power of We: A Sesame Street Special will address systemic racism in ways kids can understand, but will also model how children can stand up to it when they see it.
In the special, which is meant to be a "co-viewing experience for children and families," Sesame Street human cast members from the past and present like Alan, Chris, and Gordon join Muppet pals Elmo, Abbie Cadabbie, Gabrielle, and Tamir to help figure out how to be "upstanders," as they call anyone who stands against unfair treatment based on skin color. The Power of We will offer kids real tips on how to speak up when they see acts of racism, with a special companion guide for parents and caregivers available online as well.
Musical guests Andra Day, Yara Shahidi, and Christopher Jackson will also appear on the special along with two new musical numbers called "How Do You Know?" and "Listen, Act, Unite!"
"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," Kay Wilson Stalling, executive vice president of creative and production at Sesame Workshop, said 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."
This isn't the first time in recent months the Sesame Street gang has stepped in to help kids deal with racism. In June, for instance, CNN hosted a Town Hall with Sesame Street Muppets to answer questions about Black Lives Matter protests that have been happening across the country in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd.
But The Power Of We special airing on Thursday is a bit different; the special will feature the Muppets modeling racist situations and showing kids how to problem solve in real time, something even adults could presumably use on a daily basis.
Sesame Street has long been committed to helping kids and parents navigate difficult situations by offering tool kits and resources for issues like mental health, dealing with quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic, and now speaking out against racism. They really are sweeping the clouds away.