Here’s how the human library worked: people signed up for 20-minute slots of time during which they could “check out” and have a casual conversation with a “human book,” a person with a particular life experience that is generally stereotyped. In addition to Spacek, the other human books on Saturday were “refugee,” “punk entrepreneur,” “rapper,” “disabled,” “journalist,” “dwarfism,” “blind,” “transgender,” “veteran,” “Muslim,” “graffiti artist” and “psychic.”
“Sesame Street” has always based its characters and content on extensive research. They regularly bring in educators and child psychologists. In the case of Julia, they also worked with autism organizations to decide which characteristics she should have and how best to normalize autism for all children.
It’s tricky because autism is not one thing, because it is different for every single person who has autism. There is an expression that goes, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,” says writer Christine Ferraro.
And of course every Muppet needs a puppeteer. But not every puppeteer has the connection Stacey Gordon does to the role. Gordon is the mother of a son with autism.
Stacey Gordon: Had my son’s friends been exposed to his behaviors through something that they had seen on TV before they experienced them in the classroom, they might not have been frightened. They might not have been worried when he cried. They would have known that he plays in a different way and that that’s OK.
The odds of having a set of biracial twins with different skin colors is around one in 350 to one in 400, and the odds that any pair of twins will have different skin colors is one in 500. In the U.S. — as of 2013 — twins accounted for around three out of 100 births. [AUTHOR’S NOTE: As pointed out by many readers, “race” itself is an artificial construct that has no basis in science. While visual markers may tell us something about our ancestry, the genes that determine our appearance are just .01 percent of our total genetic makeup.]
Back in 2015, the internet was all abuzz over Lucy and Maria Aylmer, a lovely pair of biracial twins from across the pond in the U.K. They say no one believes they’re sisters, and we can certainly see why. Their dad Vince is white and their mom Donna is black. But instead of looking like a blend of both races — as many mixed race children do — Lucy has fair skin and cinnamon hair while Maria has a café au lait complexion and abundant black curls.