Sesame Workshop, the creator of the children’s show “Sesame Street,” is introducing two new characters to its cast of muppets to teach children about “racial literacy.”
The nonprofit announced last week that a black father and son, Elijah and Wesley Walker, would be joining the show as part of a broader effort by Sesame Workshop to combat racism and advance “racial justice.” The Walker muppets are one part of the organization’s “Coming Together” initiative, the company announced in a press release.
The initiative is “designed to provide families with the tools they need to build racial literacy, to have open conversations with young children, [and] to engage allies and advocates to become upstanders against racism.”
The Walker muppets are part of Sesame Workshop’s growing set of resources for parents to teach their children about the “ABCs of Racial Literacy,” Sesame Workshop senior vice president Jeanette Betancourt said.
“At Sesame Workshop, we look at every issue through the lens of a child. Children are not colorblind—not only do they first notice differences in race in infancy, but they also start forming their own sense of identity at a very young age,” Betancourt said. “‘The ABCs of Racial Literacy’ is designed to foster open, age-appropriate conversations among families and support them in building racial literacy. By encouraging these much-needed conversations through Coming Together, we can help children build a positive sense of identity and value the identities of others.”
The Sesame Workshop initiative is one instance of a broader push to bring so-called “anti-racist” training into children’s education. At the beginning of March, the Arizona Department of Education announced an “equity toolkit” for parents to confront their three-month-olds about racism and start the conversation “before their children can speak.” As The Daily Wire reported:
The Department of Education explicitly told parents that “silence about race reinforces racism by letting children draw their own conclusions based on what they see.”
The graphic shows the linear aging of a child and details how parents should talk about race and racism at each stage of their childhood. Parents are told to talk to their three-month-olds about racism because “babies look more at faces that match the race of their caregivers.”
At the age of two, the graphic claims that children use race “to reason about people’s behaviors” and, by 30 months, they allegedly use race to choose their friends. By ages four and five, children allegedly become racially prejudiced.
According to the graphic, by the time children reach kindergarten they can become full-blown racists. Kindergarteners allegedly “show many of the same racial attitudes that adults in our culture hold — they have already learned to associate some groups with higher status than others.” Parents are encouraged to have conversations with kindergarteners to discuss how interracial friendships can improve their racial attitudes.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which controls the rights to works by Theodore Seuss Geisel, known as the popular children’s author Dr. Seuss, canceled six of Geisel’s children’s books earlier this month over allegedly racist depictions of certain characters.
“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong. Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” the foundation said in a statement. “Dr. Seuss Enterprises listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics and specialists in the field as part of our review process.”
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