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Sesame Street introduces two black muppets: black identity & race

Sesame Street introduces two black muppets
Sesame Street introduces two black muppets, five-year-old Wesley Walker and his father Elijah.
Sesame Street introduces two black muppets
Sesame Street introduces two black muppets, five-year-old Wesley Walker and his father Elijah

Sesame Street introduces two black muppets, five-year-old Wesley Walker and his father Elijah, to teach children about black identity and race. Well thought out? 

Because children really need a dose of identity politics? 

Sesame Street has introduced two black muppet characters to talk to children about black identity and race. 

The new characters, five-year-old Wesley Walker and his father Elijah, were revealed this week in a video with long time Sesame St character, Elmo.

In the video, which was published on the show’s website, Elmo asks the father and son why people have different skin colors.

The topic is raised after Elmo points out a leaf that has fallen from a tree is the same shade as his fur and that other leaves are brown like Wesley and Elijah’s skin. Elijah explains that it is down to melanin. 

Because character and identity is skin deep? 

‘Melanin is something that we each have inside our bodies that make the outside of our bodies the skin color that it is. It also gives us our eye and hair color,’ Elijah said. 

‘The color of our skin is important to who we are, but we should all know that it’s okay that we all look different in so many ways. 

‘Things on the outside, like our skin color, our hair texture, our noses, our mouths and eyes, make us who we are. Many people call this race. But, even though we look different, we’re all part of the human race.’  

But there’s more.

In another video due out soon, a Hispanic muppet named Rosita will be confronted with ‘a racist incident in a grocery store’. 

Kids, does this eerily sound familiar? 

The segments are part of a new series of videos called the ‘ABCs of Racial Literacy’. 

Building racial literacy for children – but since when did a child care about the color of his/her best friend’s skin? 

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit behind the popular children’s program, according to a report via the dailymail says the videos aim to ‘provide families with the tools they need to build racial literacy, to have open conversations with young children’.

‘The work to dismantle racism begins by helping children understand what racism is and how it hurts and impacts people,’ said Kay Wilson Stallings, Sesame Workshop’s executive vice president of creation and production. 

The initiative to tackle race and black identity dialectics comes despite the fifty year old show historically having multi ethnic groups in its cast along with the portrayal of real life black children.

In June last year, Sesame Street partnered with CNN to hold a town hall on racism following George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minneapolis. 

Sesame Workshop also aired an anti-racist special ‘The Power of We’ late year in which children are encourage to stand up against racism. 

Sesame Street has a history of explaining the world to children, tackling everything from foster care to substance abuse.

Social media responds to new initiative

The show has introduced a range of new and diverse muppets over the years, including Julia, who has autism, and Lily, who has experienced homelessness

There’s also a six-year-old female character named Zari from Afghanistan and Karli who lives in foster care because her mother is battling an opioid addiction. 

Back in 2002, Sesame Street introduced Kami, a five-year-old yellow Muppet with HIV. 

And then there were these responses on social media that caught this author’s attention. See what you think?

‘I remember growing up we were told people’s color was only skin deep and we were all the same on the inside, and that’s what mattered. Now they’re telling people their skin color is “an important part of who they are.” I’m guessing they won’t tell a white kid that.’

‘Yes, let’s teach our kids to focus on something that’s literally only skin deep.’

‘The muppets were never black white hispanic asian, they were red, orange, blue, green, purple ect… kids learn about race through their natural environments.’

‘Sesame Street has had black actors/actresses for decades and handled that without being broken. Whoever is involved in this doesn’t understand the fundamentals of Sesame Street or children’s education.’

‘All we need now are a couple of token whites.’