PBS KIDS Talk About: Race and Racism

TV review by
Ashley Moulton, Common Sense Media
PBS KIDS Talk About: Race and Racism TV Poster Image
Fabulous special helps young kids confront, discuss racism.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

The show offers simple definitions of race and racism, and helps kids and parents understand how they can contribute to anti-racism.

Positive Messages

Emphasizes that we should notice and celebrate our differences, and everyone should all be treated the same no matter the color of their skin.

Positive Role Models

Parents and kids of difference races talk candidly about race and racism.

Violence & Scariness

Historical and contemporary racism is discussed, but both are clearly talked about as being wrong. Examples of racism discussed in the special are age-appropriate and not violent.

Sexy Stuff

Brief mention of people having kids in the context of how races and cultures from all over the world mix together.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that PBS KIDS Talk About: Race and Racism is a fantastic special that explains race, racism, and anti-racism activism in an age-appropriate way. Historical and contemporary racism are discussed, but both are clearly talked about as being wrong. Examples of racism discussed aren't violent, and the special emphasizes that we should notice and celebrate our differences.

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What's the story?

PBS KIDS TALK ABOUT: RACE AND RACISM is a 30-minute special that features candid conversations about racism between parents and their kids. It's hosted by U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, who starts each portion of the special by defining concepts like race and racism in a preschool-friendly way. Gorman segues into clips of PBS Kids shows that demonstrate the topic she's talking about. Daniel Tiger talks with his classmates about how "in some ways we are different, but in so many ways we're the same." Xavier Riddle travels back in time to learn the story of Rosa Parks. Arthur meets Congressman John Lewis and decides to hold a sit-in to protest unfair working conditions for the cafeteria server at his school. Parents and kids watch the clips together, and then talk about what they saw.

Is it any good?

This special is an excellent tool for grown-ups who want to talk about race and anti-racism with kids as young as three but aren't sure where to start. PBS KIDS Talk About: Race and Racism is aimed at kids, and the combination of using clips from PBS Kids shows and showing real kids age talking about these topics with their parents is a winning one. The educational experts who consulted on the show did a fantastic job of making these very abstract concepts relatable to preschoolers (though kindergartners and up will be able to comprehend the topics on a deeper level). If grown-ups and kids watch together, it can open the door to having non-awkward conversations about racism in real life. And while the show is ostensibly for kids, it models useful vocabulary and talking points adults can add to their playbooks.

The special meets kids where they're at developmentally, first asking if kids have ever noticed the color of their own skin, then progressing to more nuanced topics throughout the show. The overall message is an antidote to the "colorblind" ethos taught to many kids over the years, which experts believe is detrimental to kids' understanding of race. The special talks about how it's okay to notice and celebrate differences between each other, while at the same time understanding that everyone's equal and should be treated fairly. It emphasizes that racism still exists today, but it's a lot better than it used to be and will continue to get better if we all do our part.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about race and racism. Do you have any questions about anything the parents and kids talked about on PBS KIDS Talk About: Race and Racism?

  • What are some differences you notice about the people in our own family? What are some ways we're all the same?

  • What should you do if you ever notice someone being treated unfairly because of the color of their skin?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love learning about social justice

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