In Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’s latest antiracist episode, Christopher Loggins, the show’s supervising producer, has said that the new episode, which will air on PBS Kids on January 10th, demonstrates that “when we can talk about problems, they are easier to comprehend and control.”
One of the greatest obstacles for parents of African descent is instilling in their children a sense of self-worth in a world that is sometimes alienating. The constant reinforcement of the idea that whiteness is the norm in society is frustrating. The children often question, “Why doesn’t anyone here look like me?” and we don’t always know how to answer them.
On January 10th, a new episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood will air on PBS Kids to assist parents in answering this very question.
The author writes, “By the time kids are 10 or 11, their views on race may have hardened,” The University of Pittsburgh’s Director of The P.R.I.D.E. Program, Aisha White, stated this. Children of all races begin to show a preference for whiteness at the age of three, and by the time they reach the ages of four and five, they may not only show a preference for whiteness but also begin to develop negative attitudes about Black people and others of color.
White argues that having these discussions before we’re left rectifying anti-Black propaganda is the best way to get ahead of the curve. When parents are at a loss for words, shows like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, which premiered in 2012 and tackled difficult themes in ways kids can comprehend, can be a great resource. White consulted on the film “Miss Elaina’s Bandage,” which highlights the marginalization of non-white adolescents in seemingly innocuous situations like choosing a bandage.
Miss Elaina, the lone Black student in Daniel’s school, has trouble finding a bandage that works with her skin tone in episode 606. You’ll also see Miss Elaina’s white mother working hard to invent new bandage colors for her daughter. The subsequent song, “When we observe anything that’s not fair, we can do something to show we care,” seems to emphasize the value of group effort.
Supervising Producer Christopher Loggins says the team behind Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood found that even their target demographic of youngsters aged two to four can detect when something isn’t fair after doing research and consulting with consultants.
For young children, “we wanted to present a story that could assist them to know how to share when they felt that something isn’t fair,” explains Loggins.
The production team, however, understood the importance of telling the narrative accurately and honestly, paying close attention to details like tone and language to ensure that the intended message reached the intended audience of young viewers. Loggins explains that the group felt it was crucial to dispel the notion that “it’s all on them” or “it’s all on one person” to show their affection for a child. If we join forces, we can make a difference.
This sentiment is carried on in the following episode, titled “A Fair Place to Play,” in which Daniel and the community come together to construct a ramp for Chrissie, a girl who utilizes leg braces and, on occasion, forearm crutches, to access the playground.
As a result of watching this narrative, Loggins hopes that youngsters who have been through something similar would feel loved, respected, and appreciated. He explains that his favorite part of the episode is when Lady Elaine, Miss Elaina’s mother, comments, “You’re correct. It doesn’t match your gorgeous brown skin,” as they collaborate on a solution. In addition, we pray that every child who watches will feel encouraged to tell an adult when they witness anything they believe is unfair.
Like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which starred Fred Rogers and aired from 1968 to 2001, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is based on a successful television program. When it comes to discussing sensitive subjects like race and personal identity, the show is often cited as groundbreaking. In episode 1065 from 1969, Rogers and the African guy Officer Clemmons stunned viewers by swimming together. He was inspired to write this episode in light of international tensions over desegregation.
White claims that feelings always surface when youngsters are made to feel like they don’t belong due to methods or settings. “White argues that empathy, consideration, dialogue, and action are all necessary in these situations. She argues that while efforts like The P.R.I.D.E. Program and those of teachers and parents to celebrate diversity are important, the message that “We are all identical on the inside” is given too much weight and prevents real progress from being made. Without urging kids just to disregard their feelings of isolation and that we’re all the same, the show tried to figure out what causes it and how to fix it.
White wants his audience to take away the message that it’s important to keep an eye out for, question, discuss, and appreciate diversity. She explains that it’s not uncommon for a youngster of color to be the only person of color in a certain setting. She hopes that students will feel comfortable noticing that there are few people who look like them at school and will raise the reasonable inquiry, “I wonder why there are no other kids here who look like me,” and that adults will be ready to answer that question.
She also wants kids to realize it’s okay to challenge authority and speak up when they witness injustice. Observation was the starting point for the problem with Miss Elaina, but the situation would not have been addressed if Elaina hadn’t intervened.
She argues that even very young kids must feel like they can make a difference in their world. “Adults should encourage children to do action, even though it requires patience and inventiveness on the part of children and adults.”
White claims that this episode exemplifies how Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood continually provides valuable ideas for parents and caregivers to address race, equity, and inclusion issues. Loggins claims that the inclusive and welcoming message of Fred Rogers’ Neighborhood is carried on in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.
As Fred Rogers once put it, “What is mentionable can be more managed.” Sometimes just having a conversation about a challenging topic is all it takes to gain a better grasp on it and begin to feel more at ease with it. We at Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood think about this quite frequently.