As protests continue around the globe in response to the murder of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers, some popular Sesame Street characters joined CNN’s Van Jones and Erica Hill and a group of experts to address the problem of racism and discuss how to fight against it.
In the special titled Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism, Jones said that they had received “so many questions” about racism from young children, and he discussed the topic with former Washington, DC police chief Charles Ramsey.
“Not all streets are like Sesame Street. … What we are seeing is people saying 'enough is enough.' They want to end racism.”@Elmo’s dad Louie explains why people are protesting across the US. https://t.co/icV04F4FNW #CNNSesameStreet pic.twitter.com/1efrMAzZ8V
— CNN (@CNN) June 6, 2020
A seven-year-old girl named Lila asked: “Is it safe for me to go outside, and will a police officer harm me because of the color of my skin?”
A seven-year-old boy named Marvin asked: “If a police officer is supposed to serve and protect people, why would he hurt me because of the color of my skin?”
9-year-old Paityn: “Do you think George Floyd's death can change the way that people behave when they encounter black men like my dad?”
— CNN (@CNN) June 6, 2020
Ramsey said that police officers are “there to help,” but he admitted that the reality is people are out demonstrating right now because there are a few police officers that don’t always act the way that we would like them to act. Ramsey explained that those people don’t need to be police officers.
Ramsey also told kids that if they see a police officer doing “something that’s not right” then it is important for them to “let a grown-up know” right away. When nine-year-old Paityn asked Ramsey if he thought Floyd’s death would change the way people behave when they encounter black men like her dad, the former police chief remained optimistic.
A world where people don’t judge people by the color of their skin, fur, or feathers. A world that is fair and filled with love. A world where we celebrate what makes us different. ❤️ #CNNSesameStreet pic.twitter.com/mYrIReNPOf
— Sesame Street (@sesamestreet) June 7, 2020
“That’s an excellent question and I certainly hope so. We don’t often remember that it doesn’t take much to really change the world. I think about what happened back in the 1950s where there was a black woman on the bus one day who refused to give up her seat to a white man. That led to the Civil Rights Movement. And it was because of the Civil Rights Movement that one day I grew up to police chief in Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey added that just one thing can change the world, and he hopes Floyd’s death – which should have never happened – is not in vain. The former police officer told the kids that we can change the world, and the young people will be the ones who do it.