Was Sesame Street always so Latino? How did I not notice this as a kid? I remember Maria, one of the human characters. We all knew that Spanish was her first language. She was nice, and sang and hung out with the muppets and monsters and all was fine. I suppose that occasionally she spoke in Spanish, although I don’t believe it happened often. I clearly recall Grover, Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie, Snuffy, and Oscar—and those guys are all still around, and they’re all still red-blooded North American critters, as far as I can tell.
But when did the Spanish word of the day get started? How did Spanish merit such an honor? The only other language that’s given its own prime spot on the show these days is sign language, and it’s certainly not a daily event. Huh? Where’s the French word of the day? I use those in my writing more than anything. How about a Chinese character of the day, since we know it’s just a matter of time until they overpower us with sheer numbers? Might as well start learning it now. Norwegian word of the day? Hawaiian? Gaillic? Lovely languages, all of them. So how did Spanish win the coveted prize? I know it’s the second-most spoken language here and all, or used to be—who knows now with the way things are always changing. But still—Spanish word of the day? Is this necessary?
And where did Rosita come from? Is she a more recent addition to the show? No other character has a specific ethnicity, as far as I know...
All I know is that we turned on the tube yesterday, in spite of my daily misgivings about television in general (seeing as TV rots your brain cells and all, you know—it’s true). And the episode of Sesame Street that unfolded before me was decidedly Mexican in nature. Spanish words, Hispanic children featured on the videos, Rosita strumming a guitar and singing, in Spanish of course... The final straw was Big Bird, directing a real, true kids’ mariachi band—and the song was “Long Live Mexico, Long Live America.” In that order.
Perhaps I’m a tad oversensitive to this issue; I did, after all, just see a very disturbing video on YouTube showing an American veteran who stormed a flagpole and removed, out of respect, his own flag from BELOW the Mexican flag under which it was flying. In Reno, Nevada. That’s right, this happened in the UNITED STATES. (See for yourself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nONjlZ8YMkA)
We'll be taking a viewing hiatus from Barrio Street, whilst I ponder whether it receives any more airtime in our household. I’ve got nothing against Mexico—when it is located in Mexico, where it belongs. When it’s located in my country, or worse yet in my family room? For the edification (read between the lines: brainwashing purposes) of my naive, sponge-like preschooler? That’s an issue, folks. I ain’t no señora, and I’m not interested in becoming. I love a lot of the programming on WQED, and I can understand the attempt to reach many of the under-privileged children of our nation, but this feels a bit forced; I can’t condone handing ourselves over so easily.