Photo from Sesameworkshop.org via Wikimedia Commons
Given the segregated political environment over the past year, it is important to foster a youth that is accepting of diversity. Sesame Street has taken a step to do just that with its new focus on exposing viewers to a variety of cultures and ethnicities.
The Guardian reports that the creators of the children’s show aim to “[help] kids recognize similarities and celebrate differences- particularly around race, ethnicity and socioeconomic class”.
The first episode of the new season started off with Big Bird and Elmo traveling to different ethnic neighborhoods in New York including a Chinatown and a West African area.
Ken Scarborough, the head writer, started conceptualizing the season during the 2016 presidential campaign and chose to focus on countering many of the stereotypes it exacerbated. The notions that all Muslim people are terrorists, or that all Mexican people are drug dealers, for example.
The current administration has proposed the Muslim ban and the wall on the Mexican border, both of which exclude the “unknown”. However, Sesame Street hopes to encourage inclusion.
Scarborough explained, “obviously in this day and age it seems to be a time when differences aren’t celebrated.” Furthermore, he stated that “there’s a lot of distress in the world, there’s a lot of things that you look for simple solutions and simple answers to things and a lot of that has to do with ‘the other. People aren’t really ‘the other’. So it’s sort of seeing past that blaming other people for something that is not a problem of people per se, but is just a problem of understanding, of education.”
The Vice President of Education and Research of the Sesame Workshop has made it clear that the show does not align with any political party nor does it hope to make a political statement, it is apolitical. She says that their effort is merely an attempt to leverage a “wonderful opportunity for different children to learn about different races and cultures”.
“We want to be able to open our world to learn more about our world and the people in it”, she explains.
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