Sesame Street has a long history of helping young children understand serious matters, and the beloved series stepped up to the plate once again during the George Floyd protests. During the CNN/Sesame Street town hall Coming Together: Standing Up To Racism, Elmo's father Louie explained to him why people were chanting "Black Lives Matter" outside Elmo's window. Elmo wondered why people were gathered outside, so his father explained racism and protesting.
After Elmo asked Louie what was going on, he explained that people were protesting and coming together to "show they are upset and disagree about something." The protesters "want to make others aware of the problem. Through protesting, people are able to share their feelings and work together to make things better," he said, adding that protesters often make signs and he showed Elmo one reading "Love Justice Peace."
“Not all streets are like Sesame Street. … What we are seeing is people saying 'enough is enough.' They want to end racism.”@Elmo’s dad Louie explains why people are protesting across the US. https://t.co/icV04F4FNW #CNNSesameStreet pic.twitter.com/1efrMAzZ8V— CNN (@CNN) June 6, 2020
"They look upset," Elmo said. "Are the protesters sad?" Louie said the protesters are and "have every right to be" because "racism is a huge problem in our country." Elmo then asked what racism is. "Racism is when people treat other people unfairly because of the way they look or the color of their skin," Louie replied. Elmo was still puzzled, as he has friends with different types of skin and fur.
"I know Elmo, but not all streets are like Sesame Street," Louie explained. "On Sesame Street, we all love and respect one another. Across the country, people of color, especially in the black community, are being treated unfairly because of how they look, their culture, race and who they are. What we are seeing is people saying enough is enough. They want to end racism." Louie told Elmo he could start "learning and talking about what is happening," then take action to change things.
Another segment in the special included Abby Cadaddy talking about "white privilege" after she saw Big Bird being bullied about his size and feathers. Authors Jennifer Harvey and Beverly Daniel Tatum then explained what "white privilege" means, notes Yahoo. “White communities are not negatively impacted by racism, and sometimes we get unjust access to things just because we’re white, not because we deserve it,” Harvey explained. “The most dangerous kind of white privilege is to think that we can sit this justice struggle out.”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ message to children who have questions about racism: “Keep loving each other. And when you see someone who’s doing something wrong or saying something wrong, say that it's wrong.” https://t.co/icV04F4FNW #CNNSesameStreet pic.twitter.com/Sz5LJq6VRc— CNN (@CNN) June 6, 2020
The Elmo segment quickly went viral, with more than 7.8 million views on Twitter. Several celebrities shared it, including filmmaker Ava DuVernay. "Good job on this. Everything matters in this fight," she wrote. "When Sesame Street says more than almost all politicians, talking heads and journalists, you know s— is real. Elmo’s dad is a real one," one Twitter user wrote.