New Year, New Muppet

“Sesame Street” faces controversy


Photo provided by Naoto Anazawa/DVIDS

Elmo high-fives orphans in Okinawa, Japan, representing the global impact of the popular children’s show.

Since 1969, “Sesame Street” has entertained countless children around the world. The award-winning show is broadcasted by Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and consists of messages to teach children morals. Led by a cast of muppets, the show has taught everything from sharing to math lessons. Now, the show hopes to speak about diversity with a new Asian American character.

“At only 7 years old, Ji-Young is making history as the first Asian American muppet in the ‘Sesame Street’ canon,” according to “She is Korean American and has two passions: rocking out on her electric guitar and skateboarding.”

Inspired by the anti-Asian hate crimes that occurred earlier in the year, Ji-Young hopes to teach children not only empowerment but also to call out racism they see.

This is not the first time “Sesame Street” has introduced a new muppet to teach valuable lessons. The show introduced a muppet with autism in 2017 named Julia.

Juila was introduced to teach children inclusion and explain neurodiversity. In addition, she is there to help those who have autism, by showing them someone to relate to on a popular show. She was first introduced by concentrating on a drawing and not responding to the social cues of Big Bird. The show used this moment to explain what autism was, and how everyone communicates differently, all according to

In addition, “Sesame Street” introduced two African American muppets in spring of 2021. They were introduced for much of the same reasons as Ji-Young.

“Sesame Street” has concluded that having muppets of different colors is not enough for children to understand the message. After incidents of police brutality, the show wanted to explicitly address racial issues in America, all according to

However, not everyone is pleased with attempts to show diversity. Through an emotionally driven tweet, the leader of the Conservative Political Action Committee, Matt Schlapp, showed his discontent.

“What race is Ernie is Bert?” Schlapp said. “You are insane PBS, and we should stop funding you.”

In similar controversy, the show faced support and backlash for having Big Bird receive a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Government propaganda… for your 5-year-old,” senator Ted Cruz said in a tweet.

Despite claims of otherwise, “Sesame Street” had Big Bird vaccinated against polio in 1972, according to the Muppet Wiki Twitter page.

Whether to showcase racial diversity, encouraging children to get vaccinated, or just being there for all children, “Sesame Street” is ever adapting. Children across America now can see themselves represented in shows like “Sesame Street.”