The beloved American children’s show “Sesame Street” will introduce its first Asian American muppet in its 52-year history this month in a Thanksgiving special which will also feature appearances from Simu Liu, Padma Lakshmi and Naomi Osaka.
The Korean American muppet, a 7-year-old named Ji-Young, was created to foster discussions about the Asian American experience amid the recent rise in anti-Asian hate, the Associated Press reported.
The addition of the new character is part of “Sesame Street’s” broader engagement with race over the past year. The show, which first aired in 1969, has featured Asian American characters before, including the shopkeeper Alan, played by Alan Muraoka, who appeared on the show for 17 seasons. Ji-Young, however, will be the first Asian American muppet.
The Thanksgiving episode, “See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special” was created in partnership with The Asian American Foundation (TAAF). “This is a proud moment for AAPIs everywhere, particularly Korean Americans, as Ji-Young and the See Us Coming Together Special demonstrate that Asian Americans are part of the very fabric of American society and culture,” said TAAF Board Member Sheila Lirio Marcelo in a press release. “At TAAF, we are striving to help create a permanent and irrevocable sense of belonging for AAPIs in this country, and supporting Sesame Workshop’s introduction of the first-ever Asian American ‘Sesame Street’ Muppet brings us one step closer toward making that vision a reality. We are grateful for their partnership and their commitment to supporting AAPI communities.”
In an interview with the Associated Press, Ji-Young revealed that she likes skateboarding, playing the electric guitar and listening to the music of The Linda Lindas. She also likes cooking and will introduce Korean dishes such as tteokbokki to Sesame Street’s famous residents. Her character will help young children recognize and stand up to racism by sharing her own experiences as a Korean American.
“Sesame Street” is available to stream on HBO Max, social media and on local PBS television stations.
Meet Ji-Young — the first Asian American muppet on “Sesame Street.”
She is Korean American and has two passions: rocking out on her electric guitar and skateboarding. She’ll be formally introduced in a special that drops on Thanksgiving. pic.twitter.com/mZDgwTZJK3
— NPR (@NPR) November 15, 2021
Featured Image via Sesame Street