Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind “Sesame Street,” released a video on June 23 titled “Proud of Your Eyes” to address anti-Asian bullying as part of an initiative to help children and their families have open conversations about race.
The video: Featuring one of “Sesame Street’s” Muppet friends, the video focuses on an experience dealt with by many Asian Americans as Analyn, a Filipino American girl, is ridiculed for her eyes.
- “Is it true? Are my eyes ugly?” Analyn asks, to which her friends Wes and Alan then help to reassure her of their beauty with a song.
- The lyrics include: “Your eyes tell the story of your family. They show where you come from, and how you came to be. The color, the shape and the size — should always make you proud of your eyes.”
- By the end of the video, Analyn is comforted by the realization that her eyes look similar to her grandmother’s.
The Coming Together initiative: The video is included in the “ABCs of Racial Literacy” program as part of the nonprofit’s commitment to racial justice.
- It was created with guidance from the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF), an organization that advocates for “equity and opportunity for marginalized APA children and families.”
- According to a recent study by Sesame Workshop, 86% of children believe that “people of different races are not treated fairly in this country.” Many noted their reasoning as having personally witnessed instances of unfair treatment.
- “The reality is that many children grow up experiencing racism, including Asian American children who for years have reported high levels of racial harassment — a number exacerbated by heightened xenophobia and scapegoating during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Anita Gundanna and Vanessa Leung, of CACF.
- “Children begin to observe and internalize messages of race at a young age, during a critical time for building one’s identity and sense of self,” said Dr. Jeanette Betancourt from Sesame Workshop. “That’s why it’s important for families to feel equipped to have conversations about race and racism with their children.
- Wes’ character, a Black muppet, was introduced in March to address the topic of skin color and the impact of racism.
Initial reactions: Many online were moved by the video, with one Twitter user noting that as one of the two Asian students at his school he “would’ve loved [the lyrics] as child.”
- Several users were even brought to tears watching the video.
I’m not crying; you’re crying! Sesame Street produced a beautiful segment about an Asian American girl bullied for the shape of her eyes. https://t.co/G0cgxX6EeU
— Christine Y. Chen 陳逸音 (she/her/hers) (@christineychen) June 25, 2021
Ngl, this made me cry. Growing up Asian, kids DID make fun of my eyes. It hurts. Looking back, no matter what they say, I’m proud of who I am and where I’m from 🥲♥️🇵🇭 https://t.co/Z7YQ1uW4J3
— LeeLee 🥰 (@harajukugarbage) June 25, 2021
- There were some, however, that were more critical of the message behind the song.
- “Teaching kids to only appreciate ethnic heritage misses the racialized aspect which is the real issue,” Twitter user @RichLeePhD wrote. “Not all kids have eyes that reflect their families. For blended, adoptive, or multiracial families, saying your eyes are your grandma’s eyes or dad’s eyes doesn’t make sense and it further obfuscates the racism implied.”
Featured Image via Sesame Street