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Children Ask Heart-Breaking Questions During Sesame Street/CNN Special on Racism

In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department and subsequent the Black Lives Matter protests, CNN partnered with Sesame Street and hosted a town hall-style episode on how to discuss racism with children. In the program, the lessons proved to be important for the rest of the family, too. Throughout the 21-minute long episode, young participants asked very difficult and important questions. Many of them related to police brutality, its relationship to race, safety, and general common decency.

Some of these questions were heartbreaking to hear, yet relevant, considering the current climate that has become our daily reality. A seven year old named Lilia questioned her safety when out in public and asked: “Is it safe for me to go outside, and will a police officer harm me because of the color of my skin?” Another seven year old, named Marvin, similarly asked: “If a police officer is supposed to serve and protect people, why would he hurt me because of the color of my skin?”

A nine year old named Paitlyn asked the question at the heart of the entire movement: “Do you think George Floyd’s death can change the way that people behave when they encounter Black men like my dad?”

Charles Ramsey, the former Washington, DC, Police Chief, answered “I would hope that his death is not in vain and does lead to change.”

While all of the participants discussed the topic with grace and kindness, it is fair to say that Elmo and Big Bird said it best. “Let’s come together, all of us, no matter the color of our skin, and stand together to make this a kind and safe place to live for everyone.”

Hopefully, through constructive conservations like this one, parents can learn together how to navigate this thorny topic and pass on to their children a society-wide message of acceptance, as a basic human right, without question. For now, though, we are all learning together how to discuss this topic honestly and openly. With programs like this, we can figure out where to start.

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