Sesame Street and Barbie tackle racism in new specials
They’re taking the fight to “The Street.”
Fresh off their “Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism” town hall in June, “Sesame Street” is once again discussing the topic with a brand new race-focused special slated to air later this month. The decision comes amid nationwide upheaval following the deaths of black men and women such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police.
“We believe that this moment calls for a direct discussion about racism to help children grasp the issues,” said Kay Wilson Stallings, executive vice president of creative and production at Sesame Workshop.
The puppet-filled PSA, entitled “The Power of We,” will feature various skits and songs aimed at teaching children to stand up to racism, Fox News reported.
In one cartoon sketch, a white Muppet reprimands a black Muppet for dressing up as a superhero, because he thinks comic book characters can’t be black. The black Muppet claps back by saying superheroes come in all colors, causing the other to see the error of his ways.
By the same token, the song “How Do You Know” uses the multihued muppet characters to illustrate the absurdity of discrimination based on skin color.
“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 8-year-old Muppet, to which Elmo responds: “Elmo wouldn’t care what you said ’cause Elmo is proud, proud to be red!”
Along with the muppet mainstays, the special will also feature both current and former human cast members as well as celebrity cameos from “Grown-ish” star Yara Shahidi, Christopher Jackson from “Hamilton” and Grammy-nominated singer Andra Day.
“The Power of We” will stream October 15 on HBO Max, the PBS 24/7 streaming channel and PBS Kids.
The muppets aren’t the only children’s icons tackling racism. Mattel subsidiary Barbie released a YouTube video Wednesday in which Barbie and her black friend Nikki discuss the nature of discrimination.
“There is a huge movement going on,” Barbie says in the vlog-style clip, which has amassed over 130,000 views since yesterday.
She continues, “Millions of people across the world are standing up to fight against racism, and they’re doing this because too often and for such a long time, people have been treated unfairly, and in some cases even hurt by others, because of the color of their skin.”
Nikki responds by recalling an instance where she was stopped three times by beach security during the duo’s sticker-selling contest last month.
“The security officer thought I was doing something bad, even though I was doing exactly the same thing that you were doing,” she laments.
Barbie sums up her plight by saying, “White people get an advantage that they didn’t earn, and black people get a disadvantage that they don’t deserve.