There's a brand new resident on Sesame Street. Her name is Ji-Young. She is seven years old, and loves rocking out on guitar and skateboarding. And when she makes her TV debut on November 25 (a.k.a. American Thanksgiving), she will be making history.
That's because she is the first Asian American muppet in 52 years of Sesame Street! Let's watch her rock out right now!
We love it! So who is Ji-Young, you might ask? Let's look at how she came to be on Sesame Street!
Making a more diverse street
Over its history, Sesame Street has often been at the forefront of bringing many cultures and ethnic backgrounds to kids. In the 1960s and 70s, its human cast was a mix of white, Black, and Hispanic characters. And the show has continued to evolve over the years, always showcasing a variety of languages, traditions, and cultural holidays.
But Sesame Street knew that there was still more that they could do to challenge racism, especially after the protests and social events of 2020. After asking themselves how they could do better, they created something called Coming Together. This project was about finding ways to talk to young people about race, culture, and ethnicity.
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Ji-Young is a part of this Coming Together project. A lot of care was put into her creation, so let's meet her now!
Her own person
Ji-Young is Korean-American, and so is her puppeteer, Kathleen Kim. For Kim and Sesame Street, it was very important that Ji-Young not be just 'Asian'. The reason why is something that many people of Asian descent in Canada and the U.S. can relate to—being lumped into a single category of 'Asian', instead of being respected for their own unique cultural heritages.
"That's something that all Asian Americans have experienced," said Kim in a press release. "[People] kind of want to lump us into this monolithic 'Asian' [group]. So, it was very important that [Ji-Young] was specifically Korean American, not just, generically Korean, but she was born [in the U.S.]."
In other words, Ji-Young is of Asian descent, but she is not trying to represent all other people of Asian descent. She is just herself. She is excited to bring her favourite Korean dishes to her new friends (especially a chewy rice cake called tteokbokki) and help share her experience with everyone around her.
Watch her speak with Ernie about her excitement—and reveal something really cool about her name—in the video below. You'll also get to meet Kathleen Kim, too, who is clearly over the moon about getting to have her dream job. We love this so much!