Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind "Sesame Street," releases new resources to support families have conversations with their children about race and racism.
The ABCs of Racial Literacy is part of Coming Together, Sesame Workshop's ongoing commitment to racial justice. Designed to provide families with tools to build racial literacy, to have open conversations with young children, to engage allies and advocates to become upstanders against racism and more, "Coming Together" includes a racial justice educational framework, ongoing research and releases of new content, available for free, on SesameWorkshop.org/ComingTogether.
This framework will help guide and inform the creation of new Sesame Workshop content moving forward — including future seasons of "Sesame Street."
"At Sesame Workshop, we look at every issue through the lens of a child," says Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president, Sesame Workshop. "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 ABCs of Racial Literacy is designed to foster open, age-appropriate conversations among families and support them in building racial literacy. 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."
In one video featuring two new Muppets, five-year-old Wes and his father Elijah, Elmo wants to know why Wes's skin is brown. Elijah explains the concept of melanin and that the color of our skin is an essential part of who we are. In a new music video, the "Sesame Street" Muppets celebrate their unique identities with the song "Giant." In another video coming soon, Rosita's mom and her friend Sofia help Rosita cope with a racist incident in the grocery store, while also celebrating speaking Spanish. Additional resources include videos featuring real families talking about their experiences, families' activities to do together, and talking points and conversation starters for families.
"Sesame Workshop has always stood for diversity, inclusion, equity and kindness," says Kay Wilson Stallings, executive vice president, creative and production, Sesame Workshop. "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."
The resources, available in English and Spanish, will also be distributed through a range of national and community providers as part of "Sesame Street" in Communities, Sesame Workshop's program to support children and families. Additional professional development materials for providers like social workers, educators, and healthcare providers will also be available.
In the coming year, Sesame Workshop will release additional "Sesame Street" in Communities resources made possible by donors' support, including PNC Foundation, USAA and the Joan Ganz Cooney Fund for Vulnerable Children.