Sesame Street adds two new black Muppets to explain racial differences.
The two new additions to the Sesame Street family are five-year-old Wes and his father Elijah. The pair made their debut in an online video, “Explaining What is Race”.
“[Wes is] very imaginative, he’s very fun. He’s always trying to help his friends and make sure that they feel safe and that they feel loved and that they can feel strong in their own skin. The more I perform him, the more I get to know him,” Bradley Freeman Jr., who is the puppeteer for Wesley Walker, told Time Magazine in a recent interview.
He added, “Sometimes he gets a little lost in his own emotions because he comes from a family that’s very big on communicating how they feel—he’s able to communicate, but he’s also 5 years old. So sometimes things overwhelm him, and he can be angry or sad. So that’s where he really relies on his dad and his friends to make sure that he can come to the best solution possible.”
The video was created by Sesame Workshop. Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization behind the long-running popular children’s television program. In the video, Elmo wants to know why Wes’s skin is brown, so his father Elijah explains the concept of melanin and how “the color of our skin is an important part of who we are,” according to a press release from Sesame Workshop.
“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,” Sesame Workshop’s Senior Vice President Dr. Jeanette Betancourt said in a statement.
She continued, “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.”
Sesame Street debuted in 1969, always finding the right way to deal with tough topics in age-appropriate ways. Generations of Sesame Street watchers converted to parents have seen the inclusion of a variety of Muppets that reflect the ever-diversifying population at large. We are glad that Wes and Elijah have joined the street talk about what it is like to be Black in America and help others take a walk in their shoes.