Kids, Race and Unity: A Nick News Special

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Kids, Race and Unity: A Nick News Special TV Poster Image
Star-studded special is a great conversation starter.

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Educational Value

It defines terms often used when discussing systematic racism against Black communities, including "race," "ally," and "privilege," in ways that kids (and adults) can understand and use appropriately when talking about this issue. 

Positive Messages

Racism and racist behavior is a problem, particularly against Black and African-American communities. Young people can and should have a voice in the effort to stop it. Talking about these issues is very important, even if it can be uncomfortable. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kids are shown leading protests, doing community service, raising money, and other proactive things to help combat racism (or to help those who are older and in a better position to do so). 

Violence & Scariness

The deaths of Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others are briefly discussed. Racist attitudes and behaviors are sometimes described. 

Sexy Stuff

The use of the N-word is discussed, but the word is never spoken. Alternatives to the use of the word are also given. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kids, Race and Unity: A Nick News Special discusses racism and activism through the experiences of young people across the United States. Movements like Black Lives Matter and terms relating to systematic racism are deconstructed in ways that kids can understand, including discussions about discrimination against Black people in the past and present. The brutal deaths of Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor are briefly discussed, and the use of the N-word is talked about (but not repeated). Some of these conversations may be uncomfortable, but they are not inappropriate, and are introduced to help encourage kids and families to talk more openly about racism. 

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What's the story?

KIDS, RACE AND UNITY: A NICK NEWS SPECIAL is a viewing event designed to help kids deconstruct contemporary conversations surrounding racism, and to showcase the different ways they are challenging racial injustice. Hosted by singer Alicia Keys, it features interviews with young people across the United States who have witnessed or experienced racism, and who are proactively getting involved in fighting it. Viewers get to hear from the six teen co-founders of Teens4Equality (who organized a 20,000 person anti-racism protest in less than a week via Twitter), viral singing star Keedron Bryant, and others who are, in their own ways, doing what they can to help promote change. It also features adults like #BlackLivesMatter founders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, and author Ibram X. Kendi, talking about what race is, and how racism specifically targets Black people. Families also share some of the challenges they have when trying to talk about these issues. Between interviews are cameo appearances by folks like Simone Biles, Kevin Hart, Naomi Campbell, and Chance The Rapper, who offer kids their advice and support.  

Is it any good?

The honest and inspiring Nick News reboot showcases young people across the country making their voices heard and finding proactive ways to fight racism. With the help of experts, key terms like “ally” and “privilege” are defined in ways that facilitate the understanding of the public dialogues taking place, and improve communication about race-related issues. It also allows for uncomfortable conversations, especially when Black and African-American children share their feelings about being targets of racism, and when those who are multiracial or white their reactions to witnessing racist behavior. 

While the approach isn’t as journalism or education-focused as the original series, the conversations featured here are direct, insightful, and constructive. However, these exchanges are heavily edited in order to fit all of them into the 48 minutes of actual presentation time. Despite Alicia Keys, attempts to reiterate important points, the segments are too brief to allow for any real in-depth discussions. Nonetheless, Kids, Race and Unity: A Nick News Special  has a lot to offer, and can serve as a great starting point for families to engage in some important conversations about racism around the world. 

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