Two new neighbors have moved onto “Sesame Street” as part of an effort to teach children (and in some cases adults) about race and diversity.
The new Muppets debuted in a video shared online by the Sesame Street Workshop as part of the initiative, “The ABCs of Racial Literacy.”
New neighbors, African American dad Elijah and his son Wes, are featured talking to the well-known and beloved Muppet Elmo about differences in skin color. In the episode Elmo asks them, “Why is Wes’s skin brown?” and Elijah answers, “It’s due to melanin, something that we each have inside our bodies that makes the outside of our bodies the skin color that it is, also the hue of one’s eyes and hair. 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.”
The characters also sing a song named “Giant,” which is a celebration of pride, self-esteem, cultural diversity, and big dreams for children’s future.
Sesame Workshop Senior Vice President Jeanette Betancourt stated, “At Sesame Workshop, we look at every issue through the lens of a child. 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. We believe in a world where all children can reach their full potential and humanity, and do so in celebration of their races, ethnicities, and cultures, and together with experts, we’ve designed developmentally appropriate resources to help you guide your child to be smarter, stronger, and kinder—an upstander to racism.”
Since its premiere 52 years ago, Sesame Street has covered issues such as addiction, autism, grief, HIV, homelessness, and hunger. The first Black Muppet, Roosevelt Franklin, was removed from the program in 1975 due to criticism pertaining to negative stereotypes.
Tune in for upcoming episodes featuring Elijah and his son Wes.