These are very disturbing and confusing times. Adding to difficulties that the global community is facing because of COVID-19 are the difficult issues of racism in the US, as well as the Anti-Terrorism Bill and other concerns locally.
We may or may not choose to discuss these issues with other adults but children may be looking at us, their parents, to shed some light on the things they hear about when they turn on the TV, hear the adults talking or when they speak among themselves.
In a 60-minute TV special titled “Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism,” CNN and Sesame Street answered questions from kids and parents alike regarding racism and the recent US-wide protests as well as called for embracing diversity, empathy and understanding.
Joining hosts CNN commentator Van Ross and CNN anchor Erica Hill are Sesame Street characters such as Big Bird, Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Gordon and Maria, as well as resource persons such as Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, American Academy of Pediatrics Chair on Minority Health, Equity and Inclusion Dr. Nia Heard-Garris, authors Dr. Beverly Daniel-Tatum and Jennifer Harvey, Ph.D., among others.
Sesame Street hasn’t shied away from dealing with and explaining difficult concepts to kids. I remember that one of my first encounters with the concept of death was when the adults in the show explained to Big Bird that Mr. Hooper has died and will not be coming back. Maria, David, Bob and Susan all supported and reassured Big Bird through his confusion and sadness, a good example for parents to follow when explaining the death of a family member to young kids.
Through frank yet gently put discussions on topics from how to act when encountering racist acts to expressing support and empathy to people of color encountering racism, the show hand-held kid viewers and their parents as they navigated through a complex issue.
This show has made me wonder: what complex issue are we facing as a nation, and how do we explain it to our children? Would we have the same sensitivity and care in broaching and discussing such topics to out kids.
“Coming Together: Stand Up to Racism” was aired on CNN (SKYcable ch 28 SD | ch 181 HD) on June 6, 10pm. The full town hall may be viewed online at CNN’s website.