Sesame Street introduced two Black Muppets this week as part of its initiative to teach children "The ABC's of Racial Literacy."
According to the "Sesame Street in Communities" website, "racial literacy" is defined as "the knowledge, skills, and awareness needed to talk thoughtfully about race and racism; this naturally includes having a rich vocabulary including terms such as race, racism, prejudice, ally, upstander, and so on."
In addition, the site says, racial literacy means having "the ability to identify racism when it happens," "having strategies to counter or cope with racism," and "understanding the role racism plays in society."
"You hold great power to help children better understand this complicated, flawed, often unfair world. Your words matter, and talking honestly and directly about race and diversity is the beginning of racial literacy," Sesame Street in Communities urges parents and guardians. "Even if children don’t understand the nuances of the words, being open to learning new words and understanding ideas from others’ perspectives is always helpful."
In a video shared online, "Sesame Street" star Elmo meets Elijah and Wes, a Black father and son who are sitting on the bench in the park. After discussing the colors of the leaves and how the red ones match Elmo's fur and the brown ones match Wes' skin, Elmo asks why Wes' skin is brown.
Elijah responds by explaining that the more melanin someone has, the "darker your skin looks."
"The color of our skin is an important part of who we are," Elijah tells Elmo. "But we should all know that it's OK that we all look different in so very, many ways."
"Things on the outside like our skin color or our hair texture or noses, our smiles and eyes make us who we are. Many people call this race," Elijah continues. "But even though we look different, we're all part of the human race."
"Isn't it cool, Elmo?" Wes asks.
"Very cool," Elmo responds.
Elijah goes on to compare people to different colored leaves that come from "one amazing tree."
"Standing strong, its branches like arms stretched wide with leaves of many different colors side-by-side swaying together in the breeze," Elijah says. "When people of all colors come together, we stand strong like this tree."
Wes then picks up a leaf and tells Elmo it "looks just like us, two colors side-by-side."
"It's beautiful," Elmo reacts.
"Yeah, beautiful together," Wes adds.
In a separate music video, Elmo and Wes appear alongside Sesame Street characters Abby Cadabby and Rosita to sing a song about being "proud" in their own bodies.
"My eyes are brown and your eyes are blue," Wes begins with Abby Cadabby.
"But there is no difference. I'm still the same as you," the fairy Muppet replies.
"I am proud and you should be too," Rosita then sings, Elmo follows, "There is no difference, Elmo has feelings like you."
The chorus, in part, goes, "I am, you are, we are somebody... I am strong in my skin, strong in my skin yeah. And together we will always in, always win yeah," while displaying images of children of all races.
"If something's wrong, I will stand up," Wes sings.
"If something's unfair, Elmo will speak up," Elmo follows.
Rosita and Abby Cadabby then go, "In this great big world, it's not okay to feel hurt. We're one big family, so let's care for each other."