Two Videos That Are Great Places to Start When Talking to Kids About Racism

“We believe that this moment calls for a direct discussion about racism to help children grasp the issues and teach them that they are never too young to be ‘upstanders’ for themselves, one another, and their communities.”
ByNehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
Oct 2020
still from video about barbies discussing the negative effects of racism

The conversation around racism is a top priority, and it’s an important one to start having with kids early. Experts say that kids pick up on differences in race as early as six months old. Starting the conversation around diversity and racism early can help kids better understand the beauty of uniqueness and inclusion. To help provide resources for parents, Barbie and Sesame Workshop are releasing videos to help start the conversation.

Barbie’s 3-minute video on racism was released last week on the Barbie YouTube channel. The episode, “Barbie and Nikki Discuss Racism,” features Nikki telling Barbie some of the ways she experiences racism in her daily life, including being stopped on the beach while selling stickers, while Barbie was not, and having a teacher refuse to believe that she spoke French, instead saying that Nikki had gotten lucky for doing well on a test.

“People might think that my life looks fine, But the truth is, I and so many other Black people have to deal with racism all the time. It’s really hurtful, and it can be scary and sad,” Nikki says in the video. “I don’t want to have to constantly prove and re-prove myself…Usually when I talk about these things, people make excuses…But those are just excuses. People did these things to me because I was Black and they made the wrong assumptions about me.”

Barbie then says, “That means that white people get an advantage that they didn’t earn, and Black people get a disadvantage that they don’t deserve.”

“Barbie is using her platform to raise awareness around racism and encourage girls to stand up if they see a person treated unfairly. The format of the episode consists of Barbie’s friend Nikki talking about the racism she has personally felt and share some stories that may resonate with other girls,” Mattel told The Glow Up in a statement. “The goal of the episode is to help girls to understand that there is a huge movement going on in the fight against racism, why people are marching together and the importance of reading and learning more about Black history.”

Sesame Workshop will also be hosting a special, “The Power of We,” on HBO Max and PBS Kids tomorrow, October 15. The 30-minute episode will help define what racism is in an age-appropriate way for younger kids, as well as provide context around why it can be hurtful, through virtually-performed skits and songs. It will feature Elmo and Abby Cadabby, as well as Muppet Gabrielle and her cousin, 8-year-old Tamir. They will learn how to speak out against injustice based on the color of someone’s skin. The goal of the special? To empower kids to speak out against racism.

“Sesame Street has the ability to entertain children while explaining complex issues like no other program and equips families and caregivers with the support they need to have empathetic conversations,” Kay Wilson Stallings, Executive Vice President of Creative and Production at Sesame Workshop, said in a press release. “We believe that this moment calls for a direct discussion about racism to help children grasp the issues and teach them that they are never too young to be ‘upstanders’ for themselves, one another, and their communities.”

The special will expand on Sesame’s Workshop “Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism,” special that aired over the summer. To learn more about the upcoming special and view the companion guide created for families and caregivers, visit SesameStreet.org.

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