First lady Jill Biden made an inaugural appearance on the long-running children’s television show “Sesame Street” on July 12, 2021, with a special message for military families.
Biden partnered with “Sesame Street” and the military financial services company United Services Automobile Association (USAA) in a joint initiative to help military families talk about the issues of race and diversity with their children. The partnership was announced in a joint statement that shared access to racial literacy resources as part of the program’s “Coming Together” initiative.
“Our latest joint efforts provide resources to military families on the topics of COVID-19 and Racial Justice. Caring for Each Other addresses the impact of COVID-19 on military families, offering emotional support for the unique challenges they are facing because of the pandemic,” read the news release.
“Coming Together content for military families helps children understand and appreciate their own identities and those of others and provides the tools to have open conversations with young children to help them become upstanders against racism.”
In a Zoom-like video shared to YouTube, Muppet character Rosarita told the first lady that she is proud to be a Mexican-American and to have a father who served in the military. She wrapped up her conversation by sharing that she is an “upstander” — someone who uses kind words and actions to stand up for themselves and their friends.
“It’s important to meet everyone we meet with kindness and fairness and respect. If we see someone being treated unfairly, we should stand up for them,” responded Biden.
Available on Sesame Street in Communities, the resources include interactive games and materials for children as well as articles for adults that explain how to initiate such conversations with children and why it's important to do so.
“Military and veteran families practice service in everything they do, and they live their lives with purpose – values that help them confront injustices like racism,” said Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president of U.S. Social Impact at Sesame Workshop.
“In a military kid’s world, it’s common to see people of all races and backgrounds living, working, and playing together. Military parents and caregivers can help their children become good citizens of the world by using that unique opportunity to talk openly about racism and celebrate who they are inside and out.”
The announcement comes weeks after the children’s program introduced a family with two dads in honor of Pride Month as part of a 25-minute episode dedicated to families.