Sesame Street continues to strive to educate the younger generation and in order to better do that they’re working on reflecting real issues affecting kids today. They recently introduced their first Black humanoid Muppets, father and son duo Elijah and Wes, as part of their the “ABCs of Racial Literacy” a resource that’s part of the “Coming Together” initiative for racial justice. They recently debuted a video entitled “Spanish is my Superpower” where Rosita tells her friend, Sofia, about experiencing a racist incident when she was speaking Spanish with her mother at the supermarket.
Rosita, (full name: Rosita, la Monstrua de las Cuevas) is a 5-year-old turquoise Mexican bilingual monster Muppet, she is the first regular bilingual Muppet on the show and made her debut in 1991. In the video (which is also available in Spanish) they discuss how to cope with the situation and brainstorm solutions while celebrating speaking Spanish.
“People didn’t like that we were speaking Spanish and they got mad at us,” Rosita tells Sofia after sharing they were playing Veo,Veo (I Spy) at that market. “They yelled at us that we should speak English and they looked so angry. I was so scared I hold my mommy’s hand and she told me that we had to leave.”
This truly heartbreaking scene is representative of the realities many Spanish speakers face in the U.S. with incidents like when Air Force member Xiara Mercado was verbally assaulted at Starbucks for speaking on the phone in Spanish. Another attack occurred in 2018 when New York attorney Aaron Schlossberg began berating employees at Fresh Kitchen in Manhattan for speaking Spanish to their customers. This powerful conversation and the solutions they come up is indicative of the prevalence of racial prejudice people of all ages are facing in the U.S.
According to a recent Children and Racism study commissioned by Sesame Workshop of children ages 6-11 and their parents, racism was top of mind for nearly half the children surveyed with racism more prevalent in responses of Black children. The majority of parents were comfortable with children learning about race and racism through media, books, or school, yet only 23 percent of parents report that specific resources helped them prepare for discussions with their children.
“Unfortunately children are growing up in a complicated, flawed, and often unfair world—but parents and caregivers hold great power to help children understand the world around them. It can be hard for both kids and parents to know how to handle scary or hurtful race-based encounters, and the ‘ABCs of Racial Literacy’ is designed to give families the tools and strategies they need to have open conversations about racism,” Rocío Galarza, VP of US Social Impact, Sesame Workshop, tells HipLatina. “In Spanish is my Superpower, Rosita and the caring adults around her—her Mami and friend Sofia—explore important skills in dealing with racism, while fostering pride in her “superpower” of speaking Spanish.”