'Sesame Street' and CNN host town hall on racism: 'Don't judge people by the color of their skin, fur or feathers'

CNN and Sesame Street hosted a June 6 town hall to discuss racism with kids and families. (Photo: Courtesy of CNN)

On Saturday morning Sesame Street and CNN teamed up to host an honest conversation with kids and families about racism, amid national protests demanding justice for George Floyd who died after a violent encounter with the Minneapolis police.

The 60-minute show called Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism opened with Elmo and his dad Louie video-chatting about discrimination and the ongoing protests. “Not all streets are like Sesame Street,” Louie explained to Elmo and viewers. “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.”

“Elmo wants to end racism too,” Elmo replied.

From there, the town hall, moderated by CNN anchor Van Jones, national correspondent Erica Hill and Big Bird, answered video questions submitted by children and parents from across the country. Questions like, “How do I help fight against racism and stay safe?” “If a person calls me a name or makes me feel like I'm lesser than they are because of the color of my skin what do I do?" and “Why do people have different skin colors?”

Psychologists, a former police chief, doctors, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Sesame Street residents Gordon and Maria delivered nuanced and thoughtful information that was digestible for children. The overall message: to educate children about the history of racism and slavery in America, the realities of white privilege, peaceful protesting and loving each other regardless of skin color.

This was not the first time that CNN and Sesame Street teamed up to educate kids and parents about important matters. Back in April, they collaborated on a town hall to explain the coronavirus.

Saturday’s episode was a powerful overview of what’s happening in America today, and a reminder that the youngest generation is aware of current events, but needs guidance and education. The experts and the Sesame Street residents all agreed there are age-appropriate ways to talk about race, even with very young children, including through books and having frank conversations at home.

Big Bird said it best when summing up the important message of Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism: “I'm Big Bird and I want to live in a world where people don't judge people by the color of their skin, fur or feathers.”

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