Terrorism, Big Bird, and the Paradox of Multicultural Education
Can Sesame Street’s Big Bird help fight terrorism? And what does a children’s television show tell us about the challenges and paradoxes of multicultural education?
My guest today is Naomi Moland, Professorial Lecturer at the American University in Washington D.C. In her new book, entitled Can Big Bird Fight Terrorism?, Naomi explores a children’s television show in conflict-affected Nigeria that “is designed to teach ethnic and religious tolerance and to build national unity.” Naomi uncovers lessons for multicultural education in general, which she speaks about in relation to the current pandemic and the protests against racism and colonialism that have recently spread to many countries worldwide.
Citation: Moland, Naomi, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 206, podcast audio, July 13, 2020. https://freshedpodcast.com/moland/
Will Brehm 1:31
Naomi Moland, welcome to FreshEd.
Naomi Moland 1:34
Thank you so much for having me.
Will Brehm 1:36
So, can you tell me a little bit about the various tensions that are currently happening in Nigeria -and in particular, about Boko Haram?
Naomi Moland 1:45
Definitely. So, Boko Haram has been an insurgent movement that has been active in Nigeria for about a decade. It sort of began in 2009 -so, a little over a decade now- and there’s about 30,000 people that have been killed during the conflict. So, it’s been a very bloody conflict that has lasted over these ten years. I think the height of the violence was maybe around 2014 or so. But there have been recent attacks as well as recently as February, and probably since then that is the most recent attack that I’ve seen. So, it’s a extremist movement that has been motivated by inequality and sort of government failure to support and provide services for people, especially in northern Nigeria, in the part of the country that is predominantly Muslim in northern Nigeria, and also motivated by ideological motivations against Christianity, but also against who they consider more moderate Muslims. And so, Boko Haram advocates for strict reading of Sharia law, strict implementation, I should say, of Sharia law and an intolerance of non-Muslims and who they consider true Muslims. The name Boko Haram has been defined as saying Western education is forbidden. There has been a lot of sort of discussion and controversy around whether that is actually what their name means. Most people that I spoke with said that it is more anti-elitist movement, and when they say Western education, that to them sort of represents elites who they believe have abandoned true Islam and who have also abandoned northern Nigeria and have become corrupt, their leaders and that sort of thing. But it has also had a very direct anti-Western education push. It didn’t at the beginning, necessarily, but it definitely evolved into that. There was, of course, the infamous attack of kidnapping almost 300 girls in Chibok in 2014. And that was unfortunately only one of many many attacks against, many many kidnappings of girls and students in general and killings of teachers, destruction of schools across northern Nigeria, particularly in northeast Nigeria that way. So, there’s also been a disproportionate effect of Boko Haram on girls and women with systematic rape and abuse and kidnapping of women and forced marriages. And in the past four, five years, there’s also been a very high incidence of using girls as suicide bombers, more than ISIS has ever done that, more than any organization around the world has done that. Boko Haram has become infamous for using young women and girls as suicide bombers. Partly because they are less likely to be suspected if they enter into a public space or a market that way. So, they’ve disproportionately targeted women and girls as well.
Will Brehm 5:13
Hmm. And so how has the Nigerian government responded or tried to address some of this violence, this terrorism, this extremism?
Naomi Moland 5:20
So again, you know, over the last decade, there’s been different movements, some of them very, sort of scorched-earth type movements where they’ve just massively rounded up people who are suspected of being Boko Haram members, particularly in northeast Nigeria again. And there a lot of reports of them rounding up anyone who looked Muslim and accusing them of being a Boko Haram member or Boko Haram sympathizer, and there’s reports of like 7000 deaths in detention, a lot of extrajudicial arrests and torture that takes place in detention and 7000 deaths as well as like 1200 people that have been executed extrajudicially, in addition to people that have died in detention. And that report that I am citing from was a Human Rights Watch report from 2015. So, it is also likely that, from what I’ve heard, that kind of thing has continued. I haven’t seen more recent reports of it, but I have seen reports in the last one or two years of continued extrajudicial detention and sort of rounding up of people who are suspected as Boko Haram members and not having access to fair trial or, or any kind of fair process.
Will Brehm 6:37
And that must galvanize sort of support among some people for Boko Haram and other groups that are sort of against the way in which the government is responding.
Naomi Moland 6:48
Absolutely. And we see this in in many conflicts around the world where the vast majority of the population feels trapped between an extremist group and the government, both of whom are acting in ways that do not align with human rights, do not align with any kind of wartime conventions. And so, a lot of times, the population is kind of caught in the middle. And when many northeast Nigerians do not see their government as protecting them in any kind of way, but also as preying on them, that has serious consequences for their trust in the government. And yes, like you said, it is commonly assumed to motivate people to join extremist groups like them. And Boko Haram was doing this for a while, where sometimes, extremist groups like this provide security; at some point, they are flying their own flag in northeast Nigeria. So, they start taking on the responsibilities of the state, and people start seeing them as okay this group is providing protection for me, maybe providing food, maybe providing money or jobs or income? So, how am I supposed to choose who my allegiance is to if that is where that that kind of security is coming from? It is almost acting like a state that way.
Will Brehm 8:13
So, within this rather complex context in Nigeria, enters a version of Sesame Street called Sesame Square. Can you explain what Sesame Square is and what it is trying to do?
Naomi Moland 8:29
Absolutely. So, there’s more than 30 versions of Sesame Street around the world. And they are not just the American version dubbed into local languages; they are co-produced versions of the show, which means that they are produced by people at Sesame Workshop in New York, and also people in the local context. So, the vast majority of people who worked on Sesame Square in Nigeria were Nigerian. And that includes the puppeteers, the cameramen, the editors, the producers, the scriptwriters, the vast majority of them were Nigerian, but there was some oversight from the New York office. So, Sesame Square begun airing in 2011. And it was, like all Sesame programs around the world, it was produced to help increase educational access for preschoolers. So, it taught a lot about basic academic skills, ABC’s, 123’s. And at the preschool level, you have the academic skills, like, you know, near and far, and up and down, and cold and hot, and just all kinds of vocabulary. And they also have always taught -just like the American Sesame- about cooperation, taking turns, you know how to be a good friend, all those kinds of things. And they also had these objectives around diversity and tolerance and national unity. And those were the objectives that I was the most interested in studying, kind of seeing how those curricular objectives translated from the United States into a very different context with very different dynamics of diversity. So, you know, all of these things are also always boiled down to preschool level. So, you know, at a very basic level, it is like, we should be kind to people who are different from us, and we should learn about people who are different from us. And, you know, very basic level of messages that way.
Will Brehm 10:31
Can you give an example of a particular episode that talks about some of these issues in the Nigerian context that you just previously explained?
Naomi Moland 10:41
Certainly. There is a few episodes, for example, that will have like children from different regions in Nigeria, maybe three or four children from the sort of major ethnic groups in Nigeria. There is more than 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria, but the three largest ones are Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba. But they only make up about 60% of the population all together. So, there’s hundreds of others as well. So, for example, an episode of Sesame Square may have three or four children sharing foods from their own region of Nigeria and saying, you know, this is egusi soup, we eat this in the southeast of Nigeria. This is pounded yam; we eat this in the southwest of Nigeria and kind of teaching each other about their customs a little bit. And then at the end of that particular segment, Zobi, who’s one of the main monsters on the show, one of the main Muppets -he’s a big blue monster- he says something like oh, and here on Sesame Square we eat yams, and he talks about all the different ways that that he eats yams. And that is an interesting segment because yams are a universal food across Nigeria. And we are not talking like the Thanksgiving orange yams that Americans are used to, but more of a … it is like a tuber, it looks like a log, it is huge! More similar to like a potato or cassava. And so, that was seen as kind of a unifying food across the country. And so that segment kind of shows, you know we eat different things, we are from different parts of the country, but we also eat some of the same things, and we have those commonalities as well as those differences, which is, you know, one of the goals I think of multicultural education is to sort of see what are our differences and what are our commonalities that way. And the creators worked very hard to make Sesame Square itself a kind of neutral, ethnic space and religious space where the two main characters have names that cannot be tied to any ethnic group, the name of the show, Sesame Square. There is some creators of the show who would have loved for it to be in one of the local languages, but because they wanted it to appeal to the whole country, they had to make the name of the program in English, which is the only official language in Nigeria and it’s, you know the language of the colonizer, but it is sort of the language of business and education in Nigeria. So, they named it Sesame Square.
Will Brehm 13:16
Hmm. So, I mean, all of these different efforts to find “unity in diversity”, so to speak, you know, they went to great lengths -the creators- to try and do so.
Naomi Moland 13:28
That is one of my favorite phrases because I love to pick it apart as well. It is a very common phrase; there is many countries around the world that have it as their slogan. Of course, the United States, we have “E Pluribus Unum”, and out of many one is similar. And I think I know India’s slogan is “unity and diversity” and I think probably also the EU, many places around the world.
Will Brehm 13:51
Indonesia, the Association for Southeast Asian Nations, often talks about unity and diversity. Very, very common worldwide, it seems.
Naomi Moland 13:59
Right. And I both love it, and I think that kind of when the rubber hits the road, I am very confused as to what that actually looks like. You know, that seems contradictory. And, I know, people are saying it is not contradictory; we can have unity and diversity. But when we get into the nitty-gritty of initiatives to teach this, I think that is when you see some of these contradictions coming out. How do we simultaneously celebrate diversity and also promote unity? And I also agree, they don’t have to be contradictory goals, but when they hit against each other, there often is some.
Will Brehm 14:34
So, did you see any of that in Sesame Square?
Naomi Moland 14:38
So, I think where I saw that the most was sort of looking at the conversations that the producers would have and the creators of the show would have around, how do we both celebrate the diversity and also celebrate the unity and I think where that came out was this concern from many of the creators themselves that celebrating diversity can actually be divisive. And one of the ways that can happen is because of the stereotypes that often result when you are celebrating diversity. You know, if we think about kind of typical multicultural efforts in the United States over the years, and in many countries around the world, it is sort of “this ethnic group does this and this ethnic group does that”. And there was a episode in the American Sesame Street in the 1990s that had a white girl go over to her black friend’s house, and it was called playdate, I think. And while they were at the black girl’s house, they ate collard greens, and I think fried chicken and braided their hair. So, then, of course, there are people that were like, “That’s so stereotypical, are you saying that all black people do that? Are you saying that …? You know, that’s folkloristic and simplistic and reductive, etc.”. But then especially for young children, there is a question of sort of, do they have to learn about some of those basic, maybe kind of superficial differences like food and clothing and language? I mean, language is much more complicated, maybe then food and clothing, and holidays. Do they have to learn about those things before they can understand hybridity and intersectionality and structural racism and all these more complex topics that we talk about?
Will Brehm 16:27
What do you think? I mean, because that is a very common sort of response right to the stereotyping. You have to learn the basics before you get to these more complex theories. Sometimes I also find that educators, sort of, basically take that more complex, difficult issue to answer and just pass it on to further levels of education. They say, oh, that will be learned in university. We don’t have to deal with it here.
Naomi Moland 16:51
Exactly. Right. You will learn that in doctoral studies. That is what the undergrad professors say. Right? Kind of keep bumping it down the road. And I think there is a lot of pushback against that idea. Maybe especially now of sort of saying, kids can understand more complex things than we are giving them credit for. A similar argument that sometimes comes up along those same lines is that kids don’t see race or that kids don’t see difference, and there were definitely some of the Nigerian creators of Sesame, who said similar things like that. They said, you know, by emphasizing diversity, are we just stamping this difference that kids don’t see any way? You know like there was one quote, I remember from one of the creators I interviewed, she said, you know, a Christian child in Nigeria isn’t going to see a girl in a hijab on the program and say, you know, she is a heretic, or she is a fanatic, she is a jihadist, you know that is her parents who are going to say that. But are we -by discussing those issues, and being worried about that possibility and showing those things- are we kind of passing those fears onto children and those tensions onto children? And so, I think that is very delicate and very complex. But I do think there is more and more evidence that children can understand the complexity of even hybrid identities. You know, so, that is a thing that is often prescribed when we think of how we can help to reduce these kinds of stereotypes, and these binaries between different groups of people, is partly by emphasizing, you know, hybrid identities. So, one example of that on Sesame Square that was really fascinating was the decision of to put some characters – or to put some Muslim girls on the program- in headscarves. And some of the girls that they found to be on the program actually didn’t wear headscarves, but they asked them to wear them to be on the show, because they needed that Muslim representation. And again, this also goes back to the medium of television -that you have to have a visual representation of diversity, and a sort of simplistic representation of diversity. You know, many times, these representations of diversity that were much discussed were on the screen for one second, you know and so, but later when I was discussing this with some of the other creators who said maybe another thing to do in the future would to be to say, “These girls are Muslim. They don’t wear headscarves. Some girls who are Muslim do wear headscarves. Some girls who are Muslim, wear headscarves only when they go to school. Some wear headscarves only when they’re outside of their house”. Kind of trying to start picking apart the complexity of identity that way, even –
Will Brehm 19:38
-but putting it down the road for the next Sesame Square, not doing it right away.
Naomi Moland 19:42
Exactly right. Stay tuned for next season when we will address that.
Will Brehm 19:48
Yeah, I mean, so does Sesame Square, you know, does their message of tolerance work in the end, in your mind?
Naomi Moland 19:57
So, first, I will say that my study was not an impact study. It was more of a kind of cultural analysis of the program and of the creation of the program, and how the creators of Sesame worked to grapple with these dilemmas of how to translate an American multicultural curriculum into the Nigerian context and just how to address multiculturalism and conflict amidst ongoing conflict and deep divisions in the country. And so, that was really my goal. Sesame Workshop itself did a couple of impact studies themselves; they did a viewership study to try to, you know, find out how many children were watching it across the program –
Will Brehm 20:46
How many are watching?
Naomi Moland 20:47
So, the viewership study, I believe, was back in 2014, I think, and it was, there is about 7.7 million children. It was shown to be the second most popular children’s television program in the country. So, definitely had some legs and some traction there and was viewed by many children. And then they did also show some gains in academic skills of the children that they studied in Nigeria. Academic skills such as alphabet awareness, that sort of thing, I think there were objectives about hand washing that were shown to have gains, and I think gender equality, and perhaps one other objective that I am forgetting right now from that study. So, another point I will make on that is studying the effects of tolerance education is extremely difficult as well, especially measuring if it might have a long-term impact on children. So, Sesame Workshop, again, has done this kind of research for decades on the American version and on other versions as well they have tried to measure it by saying you know … sort of pre-test post-tests model, where before watching a series of Sesame episodes, would a child want to be friends with someone who is different from them? And afterwards, would they want to be friends with someone who is different from them? They have also measured if children recognized certain cultural symbols. Like I know that was one of the curricular goals of the Israeli-Palestinian version of Sesame Street at one point, was, do they recognize sort of cultural symbols of the other as a way of learning about the other that way? So, I would argue, even if a post-test of that kind of study shows, yes, now a three-year-old says I want to be friends with someone who is different from me, after watching several episodes of Sesame, that shows us something, but to me, it doesn’t show us enough, or it doesn’t show us a lot. It is very hard to know whether or not that behavior would be translated into long-term attitudes, or long-term outlooks, or long-term behaviors towards the other that way. That said, I think there is definitely the potential that it can, and I know many people in the United States who grew up watching a diverse cast on Sesame Street who may not have been exposed to diversity otherwise. And we build somewhat off of like the sort of classic contact theory on this where we say children who have contact with people who are different from them, are more likely to be respectful and tolerant and peacefully coexist with others. And so maybe television can almost act as a substitute when that in-person integration is not possible or is not happening.
Will Brehm 23:41
And this, of course, is also happening. You know, students aren’t only watching Sesame Square or Sesame Street. They are also, nowadays, being inundated with so many other images and ideas and media platforms. And I mean, does Boko Haram use social media to the same extent that say ISIS does where they sort of have this very elaborate social media and online recruitment systems and platforms that seem to be very powerful? Is that also happening for a lot of the children who might be watching Sesame Square, they are also, you know, engaging with this other content that might actually have opposing values being shown in it?
Naomi Moland 24:29
So, partly there is a difference of age group there, right. Where we would think that most of the people that might be engaging with social media might be more exposed and vulnerable to media recruiting efforts by Boko Haram would be older, you know, young adults, teenagers, that type of thing, whereas obviously that’s not the target audience for Sesame Square which is targeted somewhat younger. Although some of the evidence that I know Sesame found is that kids of all ages were watching it because many Nigerian households have multiple kids of different ages, of course, and cousins over and a lot of extended families. So, there might be kids of much more than the kind of two to five-year-old set who are watching the show. But I do think, of course, that even young kids still see -even if they are not engaged themselves in social media- they see what’s happening around them. They see the news that their parents are watching, they might see the social media that their brothers or sisters or parents are engaged in. And you know that two-year old’s pick-up phones and can somehow find my Facebook account, and you know start looking through it or whatever. So, there is that as well. And I do think -going back to your question of whether that’s been a tool of Boko Haram, absolutely. Boko Haram was declared the West African branch of the Islamic State at some point. So, there is even … and there is some confusion on whether or not it sort of splintered. And part of Boko Haram became ISWA, which is Islamic State West Africa. But there is definitely a history of connections between ISIS and Boko Haram, including I know I’ve read articles about them sort of providing media and recruitment training to Boko Haram. So, there is absolutely that same kind of technique that way. And there has been the belief, I think, by the US State Department and other international actors that, you know, you should sort of fight media with media. You know, that these organizations are very savvy and how they use media of all kinds to, quote, unquote, radicalize and recruit members and that that’s a tool that we must also use if we’re going to sort of provide counter messages that way. And so, like there is a US State Department satellite channel in northern Nigeria, that’s called Arewa24. I am not positive if it’s still on air. It was a couple of years ago, but I think it is. And that’s where Sesame Square broadcasts in northern Nigeria. But that was very much -you know, there was definitely programming on there that was meant to sort of counter-extremism and advocate for more peaceful and democratic values and ways of life. And then, you know, there was definitely -I think the way that I analyzed Sesame Square- you know there were messages on the program that were direct counter messages to what children were hearing from Boko Haram. I think the pro-school messages, you know there is a lot of messages on Sesame Square that school is fun, and we should go, we can see all our friends, and the teachers are so friendly, and you know, all these positive messages about school. There is also very explicit messaging that girls should go to school just the same as boys, they should play with boys, and that girls can do all the same thing as boys and whatnot. So, the pro-education messages generally, I think, were directly against Boko Haram’s messages. Especially as Boko Haram was calling Western education sinful and forbidden. And as Boko Haram was, you know, bombing schools, kidnapping students, killing teachers, all of these things, that was a very direct counter-message. The other two I would say counter messages are both for girls’ equality, which, as I said before, Boko Haram has very heavily targeted and oppressed, and you know, sexually abused, and raped, and killed women particularly. And then just the general tolerance messages are very counter to Boko Haram messages that believe that anyone who doesn’t believe in their version of Islam should be killed or should be at least taken out of power that way.
Will Brehm 28:58
So, what are some of these problems that you see with these messages?
Naomi Moland 29:01
Well, I think the first one that I mentioned about the pro-school message really feeds into one of my main dilemmas that comes up in the book, which is that what I call the public curriculum, and by that, I mean what kids are learning from the community around them and what they see around them. How does that undermine and contradict the messages that were seen on Sesame Square? So, telling kids that they go to school, and they should go to school, and that school is fun, and that school is important in an area where schools have been bombed, and teachers have been killed, and students have been kidnapped for going to school runs the risk of just seeming completely unrealistic, and almost, you know, unrealistic to the point of sort of offensive -I think, in some cases, kind of like, how can you say we should be going to school when this is happening around us? You know, how can you be telling our children that they should go to school, that school is fun, that school is a safe place for us to be when it is not. And –
Will Brehm 30:08
-It is a bit out of touch with reality, isn’t it?
Naomi Moland 30:10
Yes. And I think that that is something that Sesame has absolutely faced in other contexts as well. And it is something they’ve grappled with -in the United States since the founding of the show in 1969 and in many other countries around the world- is, do they show reality? Or do they show what they hope reality will become? How do they both acknowledge the realities and the very frightening and violent contexts that children are currently living in while also giving children hope for the future and hope for what society should look like? And again, that is something they have grappled with in the United States. And there are people very early on in the United States version of the show who advocated for making the show a little bit more radical. There were people that were saying, everybody on Sesame Street should go on a rent strike. And especially Oscar the Grouch, who deserves to have a better quality of life than living in a trashcan.
Will Brehm 31:08
Yeah, a better home.
Naomi Moland 31:09
Exactly. So, you know, so that’s been something that I know Sesame has grappled with in many different countries. I remember reading an article about the Israeli-Palestinian version, again, where there were some of the producers there who wanted to have -I think it was an episode about bats and the bats were going to represent Israeli fighter jets, and the kids were going to dive under their desks whenever they heard the bats. And then other producers of the show were like, no, that is too scary. That is too realistic. And of course, the Israeli co-producers of that show did not agree with that representation of what the bats represented. You know, so there was this very tense kind of discussions of how to both represent reality and also help children be hopeful and feel safe.
Will Brehm 31:59
And so, you know, what can we learn from your study on Sesame Square in Nigeria, looking at, you know, very extreme cases of Boko Haram. But what can we learn about, say, multicultural education in a place like America, or a place like the United Kingdom in the wake of these anti-racist, anti-colonial protests that we see sort of cropping up in this time of COVID?
Naomi Moland 32:27
So, this brings us back to sort of another paradox, I think, which is that maybe sort of more critical or anti-racist approaches are both more important in times like these and harder. Because they’re more -and I think, you know, a lot of people who study education during conflict, there is always arguments about do sort of wait until the conflict is over to address these intergroup prejudices and to try to build peaceful coexistence. But in so many conflicts around the world, including, I think in the United States, it is in the UK, and Europe, the conflicts as we are describing them don’t end in the same way that maybe wars used to end. And I mean, or, I mean, I think we can say that wars never usually had like a clean end date where everything was suddenly back to normal either. But I think when we have these prolonged conflicts and tensions, some scholars have sort of said, okay, during conflict, maybe the most we can expect is to help to humanize the other, but something like integration in some countries might seem too radical or too big of an ask during certain circumstances. And so, I think that came up some in Nigeria was sort of, okay during this current conflict is having Christian and Muslim children play together on the show and be friends and talk to each other is that almost seemed too unrealistic and too radical that maybe we can have a little like distance but still help to recognize the other and to appreciate the other and to find our commonalities that way. So, I think that is another sort of antidote to this, perhaps overemphasis on diversity is that we look at the commonalities between different groups. And Sesame Square did that a lot, and Sesame Street in the United States has done that a lot too. And again, it gets to kind of that contradiction of we are different, and we are the same, you know, the diversity and unity and whatnot. But I have been thinking a lot about the current racial unrest in the United States as well. And Sesame Workshop has responded in the past weeks, in, I think, extremely impressive ways. They’re always ready to tackle extremely difficult issues, and they have been critiqued in the past -and recently- of, you know, focusing too much on individual racism and not on sort of structural and systemic racism and sort of focusing too much on, if we can be friends if white kids and black kids can be friends, then everything will be okay. And sort of that being superficial and maybe not representing the real struggles that are taking place and the work that needs to take place. So, recently they had a Sesame town hall with CNN that they co-produce with CNN, and at the beginning of it, Elmo was with his father. And Elmo was saying, you know, -I mean, your listeners should look it up and listen to it because I can’t quote it exactly- but you know Elmo was saying, “Why are these people angry? Why are these people so protesting?” and Elmo’s father explains protesting, and then Elmo’s father like explains racism. And I don’t know -I’m not sure- but I don’t know that the show has ever explicitly defined and named racism that way. You know, a lot of times -over the five decades of the show- they’ve always said, we should respect all people and be friends with everyone, but this was sort of a shift on their part I think that has been called for by them and by many other people who have served, we have to name that this is racism and that this is violence against black people and violence against black bodies. And not just saying that you know, we should all get along and be friends. And the format of that CNN Sesame Street town hall was where kids and parents could send video questions in, and they would be answered by sort of experts in a very child-friendly manner. And then there’d be kind of every once in a while, some Muppets would come and introduce an expert or something. So, it wasn’t a typical episode of Sesame Street at all. But there were some tough questions that they put on the town hall. You know, there was a young boy who said, I thought police are supposed to help us. How come some police are not helping us? Or some police are doing bad things, you know, and those are tough questions that kids are ready to discuss, I think, and the kids are asking. And so, organizations like Sesame, I think have to -and do sort of- tackle that. I don’t remember who was responding to that question, but I think the response was sort of like there is some bad cops out there and which doesn’t necessarily address the sort of systemic racism of the systems. It goes back to kind of an individual causation of –
Will Brehm 37:46
It will be really interesting to see if -this pivot that we might be seeing in Sesame Street in America- if we see a similar pivot in the future in Sesame Square in Nigeria, for instance. It would be very interesting to follow that.
Naomi Moland 38:03
Absolutely. And I do want to emphasize, too, that there have been people who have been saying that typical multiculturalism and celebrating diversity is too simplistic and folkloristic for like a century. These are debates that have been going on in that field really since the early 1900s, if not before. People saying, you know, oh, let’s all celebrate and wear ethnic costumes, and have International Food Day and other people are like, No, we need to tackle -you know, we need to have rent strikes and, you know, tackle the inequalities. And so that’s been a tension for a very long time, and I think it is interesting to question why does a sort of, perhaps superficial folkloristic version of multiculturalism keep winning? And probably the answer to that is that it is easier and that it seems more palatable to young kids and easier to explain to young kids, but I think that there have been and there continue to be people that are working very hard to figure out how can we make this more anti-racist and more confronting the structural inequalities.
Will Brehm 39:12
Naomi Moland, thank you so much for joining FreshEd. Really a pleasure of talking today.
Naomi Moland 39:17
Thank you so much. I really enjoyed our conversation. So, all the best.
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Nigeria united in grief; divided in response: Religiious terrorism, Boko Haram, and the dynamics of State response
Political elites and the rise of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria
The Boko Haram paradox: Ethnicity, religion, and historical memory in pursuit of a caliphate
“Daughters, brides and supporters of the Jihad”: Revisiting gender-based atrocities of Boko Haram
Women and the war on Boko Haram: Wives, weapons, witnesses
Multicultural teaching in the early childhood classroom
How schools can promote the intercultural competence of young people
Multicultural education in early childhood: Issues and challenges
Unity in diversity: The integrative approach to intercultural relations
Children, Sesame Street and Race in 2020
Boko Haram: Black Terror in Africa
Why Nigeria has failed to stop Boko Haram
Sesame Street Townhall with CNN
Louie and Elmo talk about racism
On Sesame Street, ‘C’ is for controversy
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