25 August 2015

Maria, Maria

Maria from Sesame Street is retiring.

I feel very old.

While we were driving to school yesterday, NPR was interviewing Maria, er, Sonia Manzano, about her autobiography and her retirement.  I was sniffling. My younger two kids were trying to place her.
Sesame Street cast, circa 1970s. Courtesy Wikimedia.

That may sum up Sesame Workshop's problem in a nutshell there. My children watched on-demand; Sesame Street was appointment PBS TV for me.

One thing Manzano said in her interview struck a chord with me.
There was a moment when Stevie Wonder came on to Sesame Street and he did "Very Superstitious." ... The whole studio rocked out and it was great because, white people, black people, young people, old people — everybody was on the same page for that two minutes that he sang and that really stands out. ...

It was a moment of clarity, I think that you know, we started this show, we thought we were going to end racism, we were going to close the education gap. ... We had big dreams! And moments like Stevie being on the show gave us a glimpse of the way things could be.
To the Sesame Workshop crew: Mission Accomplished.

You gave a white girl from rural Missouri who was immersed in German Catholic culture a view into another world. A world with more races and colors and complications than I could imagine. You opened up my mind to more than the ABCs and the power of animation to teach math.

You opened my mind (at age 4) to a world beyond my own. You showed me who else was out there. What potential might exist beyond my rural county. You prepared me for the world that I would inhabit, first in college, then in my years beyond. I was better able to cope with my future surroundings in New York, in Iowa, in Chicago, back in Missouri and in Texas, all because of you.

Job well done.