Sesame Workshop introduces ABCs of racial identity to help families discuss race
Sesame Workshop, the not-for-profit educational organisation behind Sesame Street, is releasing new resources to support families to discuss race and racism with their children in sensitive and age appropriate ways.
The resource suite was compiled based on research from a recent Children and Racism study commissioned by Sesame Workshop to capture and elevate the voices of children aged 6-11, and their parents.
Racism was top of mind for nearly half the children surveyed, with racism more prevalent in responses of Black children. The majority of parents were comfortable with children learning about race and racism through media, books, or school, yet only 23 per cent of parents reported that specific resources helped them prepare for discussions with their children.
“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,” Kay Wilson Stallings, Executive Vice President of Creative and Production, Sesame Workshop said.
The ABCs of Racial Literacy resource collection is part of Coming Together, Sesame Workshop’s ongoing commitment to racial justice, and aims to give families with the tools they need 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 a rolling release of new content, and is rooted in extensive research and consultation with experts to develop a groundbreaking Racial Justice educational framework and curriculum for young children.
“At Sesame Workshop, we look at every issue through the lens of a child. Children are not colourblind — 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,” said Dr Jeanette Betancourt, Senior Vice President, Sesame Workshop.
“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.”
Launched late last week, the resources will help families to celebrate their own unique identities while also providing age-appropriate language and strategies to answer sometimes-tough questions around race and racism.
New muppets have been introduced to support the message delivery, including five year old Wes, and his father, Elijah. On meeting them, Elmo wants to know why Wes’ skin is brown. Elijah talks about melanin and the role it plays in determining skin colour.
The muppets then join them in a new music video, where unique identities are celebrated in the song ‘Giant’.
Upcoming videos will feature established muppet Rosita, who encounters a racist incident in a supermarket, and is supported to work through it by her mother and a caring friend, while also celebrating being able to speak Spanish.
Additional resources include videos featuring real families talking about their experiences, activities for families to do together, and talking points and conversation starters for families.