Seven year old Ji-Young will be making history as the first Asian American Muppet on Sesame Street. The Associated Press got first look at Ji-Young, a Muppet girl who enjoys her electric guitar and skateboarding. Sesame Street hopes to teach kids how to stop Asian hate and accept diverse backgrounds.
Ji-Young will be formally introduced in “See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special” which will be appearing on HBO Max and all PBS stations Thanksgiving Day. Celebrities starring in this special episode are Simu Liu, Padma Lakshni, and Noami Osaka.
How Ji-Young Came to Be
Asian hate crimes have been spiking up ever since the Covid-19 Pandemic in 2020. Even before the Stop Asian Hate Movement occurred, many Asians were fighting for their rights. There has been so much negative backlash for Asians in the United States.
Blaming a race of people based on their ethnicity, for a virus that is airborne and out of our control, it won’t solve anything at all. Sesame Street is taking a stand and ready to educate children using their show by making kids aware of racial hate towards Asian and Pacific Islanders. Their experiences are important and need to be shared, because kids will learn that being different and having a diverse background is amazing.
According to Kay Wilson Stallings, executive vice president of the creative production of the Sesame Workshop:
“When we knew we were going to be doing work that was going to focus on Asian and Pacific Islanders experience, we of course knew we needed to create an Asian Muppet as well.”NPR.ORG
Meet the Puppeteer Behind Ji-Young
Kathleen Kim is 41 years old and got into puppetry in her 30s. In 2001 Kathleen got accepted into Sesame Street Workshop and the following year got into a mentorship.
“My one hope, obviously, is to actually help teach what racism is, help teach kids to be able to recognize it and then speak out against it. But then my other hope for Ji-Young is that she just normalizes seeing different kinds of looking kids on TV.”NPR.org
Kay Wilson Stallings also says that with Kathleen’s help it will be an opportunity for Sesame Street to put the term ‘upstander’ to use. Upstander is when someone points out wrong actions, words, or behaviors that are based on negative attitudes towards someone’s color, language and origins.
The creation of Ji-Young was to not make her ‘monolithic’; the creation behind the Muppet is to make her clearly Korean American. With the debut of the show coming soon, Sesame Street hopes to help embrace and understand diversity.
FEATURED IMAGE VIA AP NEWS
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