Elmo Teaches about Racism

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Last week, Elmo and his father Louie discussed racism. I saw the following clip here:

Elmo does not understand the protest, and his father explains that “a protest is when people come together to show they are upset.” The goal is to make life better. His father shows a sign that says, “Love. Justice. Peace.”

Elmo asks if the protesters are upset. Louie says yes because racism is a problem in our country. Elmo asks what racism is and his father says, “Racism is when people treat other people unfairly because of the way they look or the color of their skin.”

Overall, it appears to be an age-appropriate introduction to racial reconciliation. Sesame Street is not infallible, but at this moment, when NASCAR has banned the Confederate flag, and the president of the Southern Baptist Convention said “black lives matter,” Elmo and Sesame Street begin the conversation well. Misunderstanding the point would take willful misinterpretation. Enter Fox commentator Tucker Carlson.

Carlson heard the exchange between Elmo and Louie and said, “Got that Bobbie? America is a very bad place, and it’s your fault.”

To me, Carlson’s response is a strange perversion of the Sesame Street spot. Louie talked about fairness and not judging people based on the color of their skin. Carlson went on to talk about “mobs” and “people coming for us.” I just do not understand how he sees the world and how he can justify vilifying a movement calling for equality.

I have attended protests, including some organized by Black Lives Matter. No one formed a mob and came after me for being white. Instead I recognize the white, straight, male privilege I enjoy every day. When I encounter police officers, I never worry about them shooting me or kneeling on my neck. I don’t think about it when I reach into my pocket for my driver’s license. When I negotiate to buy a car or shop for a new house, I know that, statistically speaking, salespeople treat me better than my African-American sisters and brothers. Yet, Larry Kudlow says, “I don’t believe there is systemic racism in the U.S.”

Right now, there is a reason to protest. Black lives do matter. It’s important to speak up and stand on the right side of history. When even NASCAR and the Southern Baptists recognize the need to remove racist symbols, standing on the sidelines or in opposition will get lonelier and lonelier.

Together, we can make a difference.

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