things that matter

If You Grew Up With A Family Member In Prison, This Retro ‘Sesame Street’ Episode Will Pull On Your Heartstrings

Sesame Street In Communities / Youtube

In a video that may tug on a few heartstrings for some of us who grew up with both “Sesame Street” in our lives and an incarcerated family member (or two), the video from 2013 introducing viewers to Alex, a muppet that revealed his dad was in prison, was trending this week. His story was part of Sesame Street’s tool kit, a series of online educational videos designed to help address issues that don’t normally get talked about in children’s programming.

Like so many of us who experienced this, Alex tries to get out of talking about his dad.

Credit: Sesame Street / PBS

A common issue among children with family members who are incarcerated is feeling shame whenever anyone even remotely mentions them. Doesn’t matter who the family member is. If it’s an uncle, cousin, sibling, the moment someone brings them up, it’s like “My uncle? Sure, yeah. Hey, some weather we’re having, huh?”

Sofia, the non-muppet, played by actress Jasmine Romero, recounts her own family incarceration story.

Credit: Sesame Street / PBS

Sofia goes through the motions of what it looks like for kids growing up in this situation. Writing letters, lots of tears with family and drawings being sent back and forth. For those who experienced this: isn’t it amazing how the drawings coming back from those incarcerated look like actual works of art?

This part of the video series is on the “Sesame Street” site in Spanish.

Credit: Sesame Street / PBS

This is great for bilingual households dealing with this as well, especially since these issues are seldom spoken about openly in Latino households. You know, how like maybe your tío wasn’t in prison, he was just “upstate.”

Heartbreakingly, Alex asks “what If I do grow up to be like him?”

Credit: Sesame Street / PBS

Alex ponders if it’s all his fault as Sofia talks to him about her experiences with her dad being in prison. His question is triggered by Sofia’s reveal that she thought her dad’s fate was somehow her fault, too. This one hits home for anyone who grew up around this, as kids are always affected by these issues the most.

Of the character and “Incarceration” theme, Jeanette Betancourt, VP of Outreach and Educational Practices at Sesame Workshop said in a 2013 interview with USA Today:

“We are looking not at the cause of the incarceration of the parent, but at the impact of the incarceration on the lives of children and their caregivers… We’re tackling this very difficult topic, but also acknowledging this very invisible community… We’ve heard quite a bit from adults who experienced this as children and who never talked about it out of guilt or shame.”

Aside from Alex, Sesame Street has been in the news a lot lately, most notably because PBS’ funding is being jeopardized by government budget cuts.

“Aaaaaaaah!”

Fortunately, Sesame Street is on HBO and its future is probably safe for now.

Since moving and finding financial security on HBO it’s probably easier to introduce characters, themes and plot lines that shake things up a bit, too.

In addition to the virality of Alex’s story, the show recently introduced Julia, a muppet who has autism.

credit: Sesame Street / Washington Post

Based on a character previously introduced in a Sesame Street book, Julia will introduce a topic never explored on the show before.

Also, a “best of” video released this week featuring digs at “Donald Grump.” Sesame Street has dished out some pretty sweet jabs at Trump over the years.

credit:  Sesame Street / Washington Post

Pretty astute commentary for a kid’s show.

All in all, it was a pretty big week for the muppets of Sesame Street. Can’t wait to see what HBO has in store for Rosita and the gang.

Careful guys!

READ: Sesame Street’s New Resident Speaks About Being Latina, Bilingual, And Proud

What do you think about Sesame Street addressing these issues? Share with someone who grew up on the show with the links below!

Paid Promoted Stories

ICE Has Released Their First Weekly List Of Crimes Committed By Undocumented People

things that matter

ICE Has Released Their First Weekly List Of Crimes Committed By Undocumented People

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Earlier this week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has finally released their first weekly roundup of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. The list doesn’t include names of the people charged and convicted of crimes. Instead, it points the finger at sanctuary cities for releasing people and declining requests of detention to help ICE round up people for deportation.

According to the ICE website, the list is a part of Executive Order 13768, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” which was signed by President Trump on Jan. 25, 2017. Critics of the list have been vocal about the similarities between ICE’s list and the lists published about Jewish people during World War II in Nazi-occupied territories in Europe.

Here’s why ICE claims you should care:


“In some cases, state or local laws, ordinances, or policies restrict or prohibit cooperation with ICE,” reads the ICE Declined Detainer Outcome Report FAQs section. “In other cases, jurisdictions choose to willfully decline ICE detainers and release criminals back into the community. The results in both cases are the same: aliens released onto the streets to potentially reoffend or harm individuals living within our communities.”

The crimes included in the list range from “liquor” to “homicide” with a couple listed as “traffic offense.” More than 140 of the immigrants included in the list come from Travis County State Jail, which is located in Austin, Texas. It is important to note that federal agents alerted judges in Texas that sweeping raids were underway as retribution for Austin’s sanctuary policies, not as part of a routine sweep as ICE publicly claimed. Out of the 206 immigrants listed, 148 are Mexican nationals. It is also important to note that not all of the people on the list have been convicted. Out of the 206 people mentioned, only 116 have been charged with a crime.

ICE and Trump have been trying to tell the American people that where there are immigrants or undocumented immigrants, there is also an increase in crime rates. However, several studies definitively disprove those claims. Furthermore, federal courts have ruled that people cannot be detained for longer than their jail sentence to comply with an immigration detainer as it is in violation of their 4th Amendment rights.

You can see the full list here.


READ: People Are Turning To Twitter To Express How They Feel About The 23-Year-Old Who Was Taken By ICE

Share this story with all of your friends by tapping that little share button below!