Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sesame Street Promulgates Racial Profiling

With my tongue secured firmly in my blog-composing cheek, undeniably, there is a modicum of unintentional truth to the hypothesis.

Like so many in our now-parental generation, with pop cultural blessing, I often find myself singing, “One of these things is not like the others; one of these things just doesn’t belong…” Insidious the undertones.

“Who are the people in your neighborhood?” C’mon! While we’re readily encouraging our kids to identify the individuals populating their immediate vicinity, the byproduct of the activity by default determines those who are not “the people in your neighborhood.”

All those sorting and grouping games? Asking for trouble. Put all the same shapes together. Place all of the items that are the same color together. Group the vegetables together. Segregation, thy name is Sesame.

PBS prodigies, our pair, they came home from a first-grade public dressing-down one afternoon declaring “All the kids on Bus #____ are bad, Mom!”

It wasn’t about skin color. It wasn’t about the riders’ families’ fiscal solvency. It was about an entire bus ridership being called to the principal’s office for poor judgment---captured via on-bus video.

Opportunity given, we discussed how it’s always easier to see misbehavior than good behavior. We addressed the fact that not every child on Bus #____ makes “bad choices.” Regrettably, the empirical reality is that Bus #____’s riders could easily—and without parental intervention would be—pigeonholed into other superficially defined subgroups. Ooof.

Just last week, during a Mommy/Daughter fast-food fest, a turbaned gentleman entered the McDonald’s.

She-Twin (whispering): “Mommy, there’s a terrorist here!”

Mommy (horrified): “Honey! Just because someone wears a turban and a beard, that doesn’t make him a terrorist. You’re saying that based on the way he looks. That’s like saying you’re like Paris Hilton* (*the subject of great disregard in our family discussions) because you have blonde hair and pretty green eyes. You need to know someone’s behavior to make judgments and assessments. You cannot simply lump people together based on their appearance.”

Today’s episode of Sesame Street has been brought to you by the letter “X”---X-Ray. Xylophone. Xenophobe.

We do love our Sesame Street; but as Big Bird sang so eloquently and reassuringly, Everyone Makes Mistakes, Oh Yes, They Do...
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blueviolet said...

I never thought about that before, but my gosh, yes!

Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 said...

Yup...that show is interesting on so many levels.

Jamie B said...

I don't think I agree.

Polish Mama on the Prairie said...

I don't think I agree. Partly, because I cannot follow her writing or train of thought here.

Are you saying teaching children something like a basic life skill such as sorting as promoting racism? Because I am a huge opponent of racism and just canNOT grasp where you are coming up with that and how that can be racism. 2 squares, 1 triangle, which one is different is not going to translate into kids saying 2 of us are green and the other is purple and therefor sucks.

Cheryl Lage said...

"Tongue in Cheek" is actually spelled out in the first sentence...our family ADORES Sesame Street!(Note the photo from last week... :) )

Just thought we all--as parents and as people--could use the reminder that some grouping (a la Sesame Street)is all well and good---other "groupings?" Not so much! ;) Glad it's getting folks thinking though!

Any search of Sesame on the blog reveals a long-term love.