Saturday, March 11, 2017

Roosevelt Franklin and Baby Breeze

Sesame Street used to come under pressure to have muppets that were easily able to be identified as African-American so that African-American kids could feel that they were part of the Sesame Street family. One of the characters who came out of this desire was Roosevelt Franklin. This muppet was voiced by African-American actor Matt Robinson, who played Gordon. I liked Roosevelt Franklin a lot. As an adult, I was surprised to learn that the character was cancelled/phased out because some people (no doubt some of the same people who were clamoring for definitively black muppets) found Roosevelt Franklin and associated muppets like Baby Breeze to be stereotypical and negative. I didn't see it that way at all. My parents were pretty vigilant about such things. If they thought Roosevelt Franklin was stereotypical I can pretty much guarantee I never would have watched it growing up. Oh well. Everyone has different tastes and sensitivities. My brother recently sent two Roosevelt Franklin skits/songs to me. I don't remember the street crossing skit but I can say that I feel the same way as Baby Breeze does about people trying to talk over me at meetings that I called or am leading. Just don't do it. 

The message in "The Skin I'm In" is still relevant in 2017 America, which is kind of messed up. I do remember the "The Skin I'm In" song. The lyrics "I know my letters and numbers/Maybe better than you/So if you look at me funny/I look at you funny too" remain a pretty humorous and accurate take on being black in America.

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