Two black Muppets, Elijah and Wes, have joined the Sesame Street cast with a mission to educate children about race and racism.
The characters are part of a new series called ABCs of Racial Literacy, launched by Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organisation behind Sesame Street, as part of its “commitment to racial justice”.
In the first instalment, called Explaining Race, Elijah and his five-year-old son Wes take a break from their nature walk and are joined by Elmo, who compares his fur and Wes’s skin to the surrounding red and brown leaves. “Good observation, Elmo,” Elijah replies.
Elmo then asks Elijah why Wes’s skin is brown, while his is red. “Melanin is something we each have inside our bodies that makes the outside of our bodies the skin colour that it is,” Elijah explains. “It also gives us our eye and our hair colour.”
He tells Elmo that “the colour of our skin is an important part of who we are, but we should all know that it’s OK that we all look different in so very many ways”.
Sesame Workshop has made frequent attempts to educate young viewers about racial discrimination, including its 30-minute special The Power of We last October, in the aftermath of racial justice protests across America.
As part of the new series, Sesame Workshop also released a music video featuring Wes, Elmo, Abby Cadabby and Rosita, who sing that they are “strong in their skin”.
“If something’s wrong, I will stand up/ If something’s unfair, Elmo will speak up/ In this great big world, it’s not OK to feel hurt/ We’re one big family so let’s care for each other,” the gang sings.