Sesame Street tackles racism with new TV special

New special will feature celebrity guests Yara Shahidi and Christopher Jackson

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Thursday 08 October 2020 19:22 BST
Sesame Street will try to handle the issue of racism
Sesame Street will try to handle the issue of racism
Leer en Español

Sesame Street is teaching children to stand up and speak out against racism amid a recent national reckoning with a new show. 

Later this month, Sesame Workshop - the nonprofit, educational organisation behind Sesame Street - will air a half-hour anti-racist special titled: "The Power of We,” with the hope that families will watch together.

In addition to defining what racism is for its young viewers, the special, which will stream on HBO Max and PBS Kids beginning 15 October, will also show how it can be hurtful through little skits and songs. 

“When you see something that's wrong, speak up and say: ‘That’s wrong' and tell an adult,” six-year-old Gabrielle the Muppet advises at one point. 

With the song How Do You Know?, the show deals with racism head-on. “Hey, Elmo, how would you feel if I said: 'I don't like you ‘cause I don’t like the color red?'” sings Tamir, a black, eight-year-old Muppet. Elmo responds: "Elmo wouldn't care what you said 'cause Elmo is proud, proud to be red!" 

“Speak up. Say something. Don’t give in,” the song concludes. 

In addition to current and former Sesame Street human cast members including Alan, Charlie, Chris and Gordon, the special will also feature celebrity guests such as Yara Shahidi, the star of grown-ish; Hamilton star Christopher Jackson; and Grammy-nominated singer Andra Day.

In a statement, Kay Wilson Stallings, executive vice president of creative and production at Sesame Workshop, said: “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."

Viewers will also be offered tips to help their communities unite, including chalk drawings, making positive signs and going to sing-a-longs, according to the AP, with the special concluding with the slogan: “Listen. Act. Unite.”

This is not the first time Sesame Street has discussed racism with its young audience. In June, Sesame Workshop teamed up with CNN for Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism, which saw the show’s characters discussing racism, the recent nationwide protests, and how to embrace diversity. 

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in