Sesame Street to Bugbears: the kids’ TV that challenges racism

Sesame Street has always been great at introducing children to difficult subjects. When cast member Will Lee died in 1982, it dedicated a show to exploring the notion of grief. In 2019, it told the story of Karli, a green Muppet whose mother was struggling with opioid addiction. And now it is explicitly teaching kids to dismantle racism.

A new three-minute Sesame Street clip entitled Explaining Race debuted this week. In it, two African-American Muppets – Wes, a five-year-old, and his father Elijah – engage Elmo in a discussion about identity. At one point the father gestures to an autumn tree and says: “When people of all colours come together, we stand strong, like this tree.” It’s hoped that Wes and Elijah will be used to discuss race and racism in a more direct way than Sesame Street has done in the past.