Alicia Keys set to discuss kids, race and unity on Nickelodeon’s Nick News; also Sesame Street teaches kids about protesting and racism in support of the Black Lives Matter movement

Written by: Alexandria Jordan – June 25th, 2020 12:59am pst

From COVID to the injustice around the world, many adults are struggling to process their feelings of what’s going on. While this may be hard for adults, it can be even more challenging for children to process what they are seeing and feeling. 

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Nickelodeon has decided to bring back Nick News featuring Alicia Keys. The hour long special titled, Kids, Race and Unity: A Nick News Special, will be about children, race, and unity. It will aim to amplify the voices and experiences of Black kids across the country. The show, which airs June 29th at 7pm ET/PT, will feature Black Lives Matter leaders answering questions from kids while also offering tools for families to have constructive conversations about race and inclusivity. It will also highlight the work of teen activists.

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Additionally, the cast of Sesame Street, including Elmo and Big Bird, discussed and explained the concept of protesting and racism to children for the first time during the episode “Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism”. 

Elmo’s dad Louie explains why people are protesting across the US.

“Not all streets are like Sesame Street. … What we are seeing is people saying ‘enough is enough.’ They want to end racism.”

When Abby Cadabby saw Big Bird bullied because of his color and size, she said “It wasn’t kind, and it wasn’t fair… I wouldn’t want to be treated like that. So I understand how Big Bird was upset.”

Here are some additional tips from the Child Mind Institute parents can use to help kids deal with the news, racism, and violence. 

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#1- Don’t Avoid Talking About it

It’s important for everyone to understand that racism is not new. This is an ongoing problem that requires people to change their mentality and mindset in order to work towards a better and brighter future. In order for the future to be better, parents have to have those difficult conversations. For parents of color, the conversation has never really been an option. Racism is a daily reality. 

Dr. Kenya Hameed, PsyD, a clinical neuropsychologist at the Child Mind Institute says, “White parents can help by addressing race and racism with kids early and often. Research shows that even very young children are aware of racial differences, and children can learn harmful lessons about race when it’s not discussed openly. It’s helpful for white families to see that minimizing the legacy of racism in our society by avoiding ugly truths does children a disservice. Instead, white parents can commit to educating themselves and building conversations about race into kids’ lives early on.”

Parents can also make an effort to represent racial diversity in the products they buy for their children, which can help normalize diversity for kids and spark everyday conversations about race. 

#2 Validate Their Feelings 

It’s important to always check in with your child. Sometimes, kids have worries or concerns they haven’t learned how to express yet. Some kids might be afraid of riots, of being hurt by the police, or worry that something bad could happen to loved ones. Try to avoid making assumptions. Instead, ask broad questions that give kids space to talk over what they’re feeling: “How did you feel about what we saw on the news? What did it make you think about?”

Describing their feelings may look different for every child. For example, young children may prefer drawing, painting or acting out stories with toys. This can be helpful tools for expressing thoughts and feelings that aren’t easy to put into words. Always try to acknowledge your child’s feelings, fears or worries.

#3 Be Clear, Direct, and Factual

Always use clear language, even with young children. “If you expect children to read between the lines, they can miss the message,” Dr. Hameed says. “Emphasize that racial violence is wrong. It’s easy for kids, especially little ones, to think that bad things happen to black people because black people are themselves bad. Even if a child doesn’t explicitly tell you this, it is an easy assumption they can make based on how black people have been portrayed and treated in this country.” 

It’s also important to talk about history. Dr. Hameed notes that kids need to know that racism is part of a history that dates back hundreds of years. At the same time, emphasize your hope for a better future and how your family can help make that a reality.

#4 Encourage Questions

Since kids are likely to have lots of questions about racism and violence, there is a chance that parents won’t be able to answer them, especially if they aren’t easy ones. Some may want to know how racism affects them or why black people have been treated unfairly. Although these aren’t easy subjects, feeling uncomfortable during the conversation is perfectly normal. Dr. Hameed encourages parents to continue talking saying, “By tolerating discomfort you’re modeling an important skill for your child. Be honest.”

#5 Try To Be Calm, But Don’t Hide Your Emotion 

When having difficult conversations, it’s helpful to pick a time when you’re feeling centered and have had a chance to work through your own feelings. Dr. Hameed says, “Let them know that you’re sad or angry. Acknowledge that it’s good to be upset by injustice, as long as it doesn’t stop you from working to make it better.” She says it’ll leave kids with a clear lesson about the family values you want to pass on to them.

#6 Rely On Your Support System

For many parents, witnessing scenes of racist violence is deeply upsetting, but for parents of children of color, it can also be traumatic. Since everyone is truly living in unprecedented times, it’s important to take time to check in with your own mental health during this time.

If you’re feeling exhausted or overwhelmed, reach out to your friends, family members, religious leaders and mental health professionals to help you process your own emotions. It can also help if you want to bring in another trusted adult to talk to your children — having an adult perspective that doesn’t come from a parent can give them more space to sort through what they’re feeling and ask questions.

#7 Keep The Conversation Open

As with any other important topic, racism and violence aren’t something you can just talk about once. This may be something that’s going to keep coming up, so it’s important to let your kids know that you’re there for them whenever they need to talk. Dr. Hameed also recommends parents keep checking in with their kids.

#8 Explore Resources

No matter the subject, there are lots of great resources out there to help you continue crucial conversations with your children.

Below are several other sites that can list resources and ways to help and support parents when having these difficult conversations. 

https://www.embracerace.org/resources/teaching-and-talking-to-kids

https://childrensalliance.org/resource/talking-about-racism-resources-parents-and-caregivers 

Let us know if there are any more tips and resources that didn’t make the list. 

Stay tuned for more news and updates.

If you love Alicia Keys, Nickelodeon, or Sesame Street share this article with a friend. 

If you love Alicia Keys, Nickelodeon, or Sesame Street, share this article with a friend. Tune in daily to Black Hollywood Live for the latest news and info on pop culture and entertainment!

About The Author:

Alexandria Jordan is an on-air host and red carpet correspondent with AfterBuzz TV and Black Hollywood Live. She is passionate about all things entertainment and loves connecting with people who share similar interests.

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