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i remember much of this from when the show first came out….KQED in san francisco had programing discussing the genesis of the show…….i remember sitting down with my one year old eldest son to watch the very first episode….which i remember being shown on one of the big three network channels….he loved it….i loved it….both of us can still, after all this time, sing many of the songs (“the alphabet song”—-i can still pronounce it!….”i love trash” “c is for cookie” etc”).. and we incorporated many of the ‘punch lines into our conversations (“nice nice….pretty feathers”…..”one of these things is not like the others” etc)…..i strongly believe that the show had so many things to offer that children connected with the things that were echoed in their own lives…..the inclusive nature, the skills like counting and letters, social interactions….all presented so naturally and without preaching that they were very easily understood and absorbed….and i believe that the world is better for what that generation and the following ones learned and incorporated into their lives
Firstly, I didn’t know this, and it is wonderful that we are still sharing our thoughts since it’s right at Fifty years that this endeavor began, and it has been there for my kids. I have a friend Judy Freudberg who has passed away, she wrote for the show for many years, and I honor her memory by mentioning Elmo’s part in much of this, and the other people on the show, writers and puppeteers and actors both ongoing and guests. Mention of Mr. Hooper and his shop, he was also a minority, the Jewish shopkeeper. When he died it was an experience for all the kids who had grown to love him. They got to experience life and death together. (I am still learning about life, and my growth is enhanced with articles like these, thank you)
I watched, and loved, Sesame Street as a child in New Zealand. It’s amazing to know how it came about – I certainly didn’t pay any attention to the ethnic make-up of the show.
I was born in 1966. As a child, I watched Sesame street every day until I went to kindergarten. I may have seen even the first episode. I remember when they switched Gordons, only I thought he had just shaved his head (just read a few years ago that they replaced the original actor). My parents purchased the Fisher Price Sesame Street characters – they were wooden then, and one of my cats loved to play with Gordon. I grew up in a middle class white family, in an all white town, with portraits of Confederate officers on the living room wall. We didn’t really talk about race, but my parents would whisper “black people” in conversation. As an adult, I travelled solo throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. One day I met a large brown-skinned man with a shaved head who became my friend, and later, my husband and the father of my beautiful bi-racial daughter. She too was raised watching Sesame Street. I do not think it was a failed experiment.
I was lucky enough to be one year old when Sesame Street came on the air. I absolutely believe it made a positive difference in how I see the world.
The most obvious and most powerful teacher of children for equality and change in our society is not schools or churches or well meaning psychiatrists. It is the parents of the children. How do we address the parents and parents to be so they will understand the global improvement in our society if our children are taught to see others with respect and equality. Children will act based on observation of behavior not words and the behavior of their parents is most critical. Parents need to take responsibility for this and stop foisting how their children develop on other people or institutions
Pamela, while I understand that you are trying to sound well versed here in wanting to bring people together, by suggesting that we do so by the power of your God, you are leaving out a large population of peoples who do not follow Jesus Christ. Are you suggesting then that only Christians deserve to come together? Or that Muslims, Jews and all other denominations are wrong for how they pray and cannot come together with other religions to live happily together? I don’t see how that mentality helps anyone but the primarily white Christians.
Also it depends on which Testament God you are referring to. The one who condemns mankind for the slightest difference to his rules or the slightly more forgiving one who is now misunderstood and misinterpreted by his followers as one to leave out the poor, the different and those that do not adhere strictly?
Sesame Street brings together children and adults on all spectrums, be it mental, physical or gender identity and does so by explaining their power and their right to exist as they do without borders or forcing them into a perfect little box.
Sesame Street came out after my preschool years, but it was just in time for my younger sister. I watched so many episodes. It was an engaging and entertaining show for younger children. What I gained most from this show is that it normalized different people living among and interacting with each other in positive ways. As a white, working-class child growing up in a white working-class neighborhood this was important. Media is a powerful thing. Until recently most television shows have either left out Black and Brown people entirely or cast them in non-supporting sidekick roles. That brainwashes white children too. Sesame was a powerful influence in my life. I liked Oscar and Cookie Monster. Big Bird got on my nerves though.
Our society is so in trenches with racism. The longer we continue to focus on our differences vs our commonalities, change will stagnate. I believe that one means of breaking this evil is through the the Christian Churches. Since racism is inherently evil why not seek the most Powerful God, Jesus Christ, the Word of God and the only sourse of pure love to exist to begin bring humanity together. Maybe by Church’s of color coming together to help an area that is impoverished. When I say, ” people of color” I’m including all shade of mankind. I saw a show that made a point that would be good for all people to learn. There is no black, white, brown, yellow, or any combinations of color. We are all one color !!! God created us as one group of people, His People. If Church’s could unit for a common cause, learning that we all are one group, learn to love each other as God wants, then hopefully change can begin. I’m Dyslexic and have a hard time expressing myself in print. Hopefully you can seek my message and not critic my way of writing. All I can say is my heart breaks when I see children being judged, deprived and condemned because of their color, where they live, how much or how little they have and so forth. Evil is at the core. Evil wants to kill, destroy and maim. Just contiueing to forge ahead with fresh ideas can only bring healing, understanding and unity. May God bless all who read this. May all who truely want change consider The Power of Jesus Christ who has concurred evil.
I agree with you that our society is saturated in racism. Unfortunately, your comment shows that you may not be aware of the history of oppression by Christian churches in this country, and how those small & large actions not only contributed to racism in our nation’s early days, but continues to support it today.
I feel that your comment is coming from a place of wanting things to improve, and in that same vein, I encourage you to really read and understand how pervasive racism and its disdain for difference (which, in actuality, is nothing to be afraid of) is. Once folks understand how deep and wide this runs, we can start changing beliefs, behaviors, and systems that have perpetuated racism, historically and currently. In regards to Christianity, this article, and the book it refers to, is a good place to start. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/january-web-only/jemar-tisby-color-of-compromise-church-racism.html
It has been my experience that MOST Christian churches promote racism under cover of self-righteousness.robin
Amen to that Robin! This recovering Catholic agrees!