Sesame Workshop, the educational nonprofit behind the children’s TV show Sesame Street, is making it easier to talk about race and racism with kids.
On Tuesday, it debuted the “ABCs of Racial Literacy,” new resources to help families tackle these topics and “celebrate their unique identities,” according to a press release. This initiative is part of Sesame Workshop’s ongoing commitment to racial justice, Coming Together, which started after the police killing of George Floyd last May and the summer of protests against racial injustice, reported Time magazine.
Research shows that children as young as 3 months old prefer faces from certain racial groups and 9-month-olds rely on race to categorize faces, according to the American Psychological Association. Nearly half of children surveyed in a recent study commissioned by Sesame Workshop cite racism as top of mind for them, with the topic more salient for Black children, according to the nonprofit’s press release, which notes that a full report of the study’s findings will be released in the spring.
Most of the parents surveyed in the study are comfortable with their kids learning about race and racism via media, books, or in school. However, only 23 percent of those parents say specific resources helped them to prepare for these conversations.
The ABCs of Racial Literacy can help fill this gap. These free resources, available in both English and Spanish, include videos, like one that helps Elmo understand why we all have different skin colors, conversation starters for families on race, and real families talking about issues like how they prepare their kids to stay safe around police officers.
“Sesame Workshop has always stood for diversity, inclusion, equity, and kindness. As a trusted source for families, we have a responsibility to speak out for racial justice and empower families to have conversations about race and identity with their children at a young age,” said Kay Wilson Stallings, Sesame Workshop’s executive vice president of creative and production, in the press release.
“The work to dismantle racism begins by helping children understand what racism is and how it hurts and impacts people. Sadly, today’s announcement comes at a time of racial and social discord when many families are in need of support in talking to their children about racism,” said Wilson Stallings. “We’re proud to reaffirm our Coming Together commitment to racial justice, which will be woven into new Sesame Workshop content for years to come.”