Meet Ji-Young! The first Asian American character to move to one of the most famous addresses in the world – Sesame Street.
The Korean-American puppet is seven years old and loves to swing on his electric guitar and skateboard.
Sesame Street writers say they hope she will help young children in Asia and the Pacific Islands feel at home in America as much as anyone else.
Kathleen Kim, who is the puppeteer behind Ji-Young, says she hopes her character can help teach children how to be a good “advocate” – someone who stands up against things like bullying, racism. and hateful attitudes or behavior.
“My only hope, of course, is to help teach what racism is, to help children be able to recognize it and then speak out,” she said.
“But my other hope for Ji-Young is that she just normalizes seeing different kinds of kids on TV.”
Ji-Young’s introduction to popular children’s show considered even bigger after reports of an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the special episode, Ji-Young tells her friends that someone told her to “go home,” which leads her to talk to trusted adults about anti-Asian racism.
Ji-Young is said to be keen on showing his new neighbors important and interesting elements of Korean culture such as food.
This isn’t the first time that a Sesame Street character has been featured with the goal of helping children understand and celebrate diversity in the world.
Previous characters included an autistic puppet and a homeless puppet.
Here are a few more examples of when kids’ TV shows featured revolutionary characters or famous people who are different.
The story of Tracy Beaker
Jacqueline Wilson’s book The Story of Tracy Beaker was adapted into a TV show in 2002, and was a highlight for many as it told the story of children in care.
Before that, young people who were part of the care system were often stereotyped – presented as “troubled” children.
But Tracy Beaker and The Dumping Ground have helped show that there are many different reasons a child should be placed in foster care or foster care.
The next step
In July 2020, two female characters, Jude and Cleo from ‘The Next Step’, kissed.
It was considered a highlight as it was the first gay kiss to air on CBBC in the UK.
A lot of people said it was an important time for LGBTQ + rights and for representation.
One viewer said: “It honestly makes me so happy because I know there are children who will feel less lonely.”
When Evie MacDonald first appeared on Australian television as Hannah in the children’s drama series First Day, she became the first trans actress to star in a scripted television series in history. from the country.
The series aired on CBBC shortly thereafter and became a huge hit with audiences.
The show follows Hannah as she joins a new school, but is bullied for being transgender.