Sesame Street is launching a new puppet character and their main goal appears to be fighting racism. Ji-Young, the show’s new star, will join the muppets of “Sesame Street” this month. It’s the first Asian American Muppet in the show’s five-decade-long history.
Ji-Young, a seven-year-old girl of Korean American origin, will make her television debut on the “Sesame Street” Thanksgiving Day special named “See Us Coming Together.” The show will air on November 25. The program is part of Sesame Workshop’s “Coming Together” racial justice initiative, which commenced working last year with the goal to teach kids about racial literacy. Sesame Workshop is a nonprofit educational organization.
Ji-Young was introduced to the show to celebrate the diversity of Pacific and Asian Islander communities. The special will also gather celebrities, including Simu Liu and Anna Cathcart, Naomi Osaka, Jim Lee, Padma Lakshmi, and Melissa King.
Alan Muraoka, the co-director of the special and the owner of Mr. Hooper’s Store on “Sesame Street,” told NBC’s “TODAY” that the episode comes at a critical time. Alan underlined the need to deal with Asian American issues, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of anti-Asian violence.
According to the latest FBI data released this month, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by an astounding 73 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, while overall hate crimes increased by 13 percent.
As part of the “Coming Together” campaign, “Sesame Street” featured two new Muppets this year: Elijah, a Black father, and his 5-year-old son, Wes. Elmo inquires as to why Wes’ skin is dark in an introduction video, and Elijah responds by explaining the notion of melanin and how “the color of our skin is an important part of who we are, but we should realize that it’s alright that we all look different.”
“Many people call this race,” he continues, “but we’re all part of the human race, even though we appear different.”