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Sesame Street’s My Name Is You

I watched a lot of Sesame Street with my children when they were young. It was not purely out of a sense of fatherly duty but also because I thoroughly enjoyed the program and thought that it was one of the best things on TV. In fact, I remember a lot of more of the sketches and songs than my (now grown) children do.

Just yesterday, I suddenly remembered this delightful music video We All Sing With the Same Voice (My Name Is You).

The message of tolerance, diversity, inclusion, friendship, harmony, and universality in this song is done so much better than the cloyingly sentimental It’s a Small World or We Are the World, both of which I got sick of after just one hearing, while I can listen to and watch this video repeatedly and it always brings a smile to my face. It reminds me how clever the songwriters for Sesame Street were.

This particular song was written in 1981 by Sheppard Greene and J. Philip Miller. One thing to notice is the section that deals with family variety, where different children sing:

I’ve got sisters one, two, three
In my family there’s just me
I’ve got one daddy
I’ve got two.

Back in the 1980s when I first heard this, I assumed that the ‘two daddys’ reference was to blended families and referred to a father and a stepfather because in 1981 gay couples could not adopt a child anywhere in the US. But who knows, perhaps the people at Sesame Street were ahead of their time.

If such a song were introduced now, we would hear the immediate screeching of bigots that young children were being indoctrinated with the sinister ‘gay agenda’ and demanding that a perfectly wonderful song and video be yanked.

Comments

  1. Cuttlefish says

    It’s a small touch, but I love the fact that the “I’ve got one daddy/I’ve got two”, in the video, was delivered by the same girl. It puts me in mind of the inclusive “those of us who are” language that Cuttlefish U. was trying to promote (haven’t seen it in a while, sadly). When introducing any subgroup of humanity, the proper intro was to be “those of us who are”, such that I should be saying “those of us who are gay experience this, those of us who are straight experience that, those of us who fall somewhere on the spectrum… Those of us who are black answered the survey this way, those of us who are white answered this way, those of us who identify as…”

    Ideally, the students understand that “us” is as broadly inclusive as possible; “them” as limited as the topic requires. I’ve tried to use this language whenever it does not seem terribly artificial to do so, and it is usually well received (the reliable, but not only, exception being privileged groups–sometimes someone takes offense because I myself am privileged, and have not earned the right to say “those of us”). This video (aside from taking me back three decades, with a smile) shows how to do inclusion right.

    Thanks for the find.

  2. says

    It seems like the late 70’s and early 80’s were a golden age of budding tolerance and inclusiveness. I was a young adult at that time, and sadly I thought these sentiments were the “norm” and not a brief shining moment in the cultural history. The religious right had already begun its ferocious drive to roll back women’s rights and worker rights – they were patient and it took a couple of decades, but the steady track rightwards can be traced back to those days. I can’t believe that what we thought of as a dawning (age of Aquarius anyone?:D) was in fact, the brief high point.

    I’m hopeful that we will see a resurgence of effort to restore that sense of growing social equality and tolerance – hey, even appreciation? Can I dream a little? – for diversity. Some days I begin to think the pendulum is swinging back in that direction – but other days, I feel despair.

    Love your blog, Mano.

  3. Mano Singham says

    That’s a nice verbal formulation. I must remember to use it whenever I can.

  4. Mano Singham says

    I am actually quite hopeful that things are moving the right way. The vicious nastiness that we see, and which can cause us despair, is how people react when they feel they are the losing, and there is not doubt that the bigots are on the losing side of history.

  5. Robert B. says

    I quite agree. It’s been my experience that when bigots feel unthreatened, they aren’t full of rage and bluster at all. The bigotry is framed in socially respectable formats – in choices of who to associate with, in artless arrogant assumptions and turns of phrase, in jokes. Jokes especially – it is all considered very funny. After all, why should they be upset? They’re in charge. Nothing is wrong with their world.

    But when they’re defied, when their assumptions and privilege are challenged, that’s when the shouting starts. If we hear bigots howling everywhere, it means they don’t feel safe anywhere.

  6. Allistew says

    I stumbled upon your blog when searching for these lyrics. I first heard them this morning when I overheard a father complaining to the day care staff that he didn’t want his daughter singing such ideas. In fact, he had told her not to sing this song again. So, yes, in today’s world the bigotry does come out when parents hear these benign lyrics. I would assume that his daughter would have no idea the song was anything other than words strung together if her dad hadn’t made a fuss. So much for the tolerance advocated by this song.

  7. Allistew says

    I wanted to also add that this father was also very polite and respectful while making his complaint, even as his purpose for complaining, in my opinion, was inappropriate.

  8. Mark says

    You people sicken me. This song has always made me highly displeased with Sesame Street. I call these lyrics seditious, not praiseworthy. Gay couples adopting is perhaps the single greatest abomination of our time. They scathingly call all straight people “breeders” and then DEMAND the right to raise one of our children as their own, brainwashing them to “tolerate” everything and anything as acceptable.

  9. melissaabeyta says

    this is for the mark guy , i cant believe you exist, were is it that you come from ? so ugly so much hate… i’m glad we did not grow up watching” marks street”. i wound not want my kids watching a show that was full of darkness hate and bigots monsters . i hope you don’t think Jesus ran around telling every one to hate every thing that was not just like them-self’s…he said go now and love one another as i have loved you …there was no fine print.i have two kids raised on the street.. so old school hate and intolerants we are are hitting back with love, love,love
    so i will stick with sesame street, i think Jesus would love/ dig the message of this great hippy liberal song .. Jesus was a rebel,
    who talked like a liberal and looked like a hippy. he said we are all children of god my name is you ..

  10. melissaabeyta says

    it was not the high point it was just a wave ..we are still moving
    closer to the high mark.. i was 4 years old when this first aired in 1984, and for the people who get it that we are all one and when you hurt or hate your brother your are just hurting your self and family… any way i’m teaching my 5 year old this song..

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