Elmo learns about racism and protests in special Sesame Street broadcast

In a special broadcast, characters from Sesame Street have come together to help children understand racism and the protests sweeping the US in the wake of George Floyd’s death in custody.

The long-running children’s TV show teamed up with news network CNN for an hour-long program that featured popular characters from the show, such as Elmo and Big Bird, who along with experts, explored questions submitted by families about the protests and systemic racism.

At the start of the program, a crowd chants “black lives matter” while Elmo looks out the window and tells his dad, Louie, he is not sure what is happening. 

“They’re gathering together to protest,” Louie says. “A protest is when people come together to show they are upset and disagree about something. They want to make others aware of the problem. Through protesting, people are able to share their feelings and work together to make things better.”

Louie says the protesters are upset because racism is “a huge problem”. Elmo then asks what racism is.

“Racism is when people treat other people unfairly because of the way they look or the colour of their skin,” Louie replies.

“Not all streets are like Sesame Street. On Sesame Street, we all love and respect on another. Across the country, people of colour, especially in the black community, are being treated unfairly because of how they look, their culture, race and who they are.”

“What we are seeing is people saying, ‘Enough is enough.’ They want to end racism,” Louie adds.

The show also included an appearance from Sesame Street character Abby Cadabby, who shared a story about how Big Bird was once bullied for his size and yellow feathers.

CNN hosts, children’s authors and Keisha Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta, also appeared.

Ms Bottoms said that it was never too early to begin discussing racism with children.

“I don’t think it’s too early because we’re seeing it anyway. They’re seeing it on TV, they’re seeing it on their iPads … I just think we have to speak to it in the context in which they’ll understand it,” she said.

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