In a video clip released this week, Analyn, a Filipino American, tells her friends Wes and Alan that she’s been bullied for the shape of her “slanty” eyes. Her friends cheer her up with a song telling her that “Your eyes tell the story of your family. They show where you came from, and how you came to be. The color, the shape and the size should always make you proud of your eyes.”
The heartwarming message was explained by The Hill as an effort to combat “anti-Asian attacks and rhetoric.” As heartwarming as its message may be, it remains doubtful whether a Sesame Street song will do anything to stop the recent spate of assaults on Asian-Americans in the US’ major cities.
With media attention on anti-Asian racism, celebrities have also found themselves in hot water recently for past comments on Asians. Pop star Billie Eilish apologized this week after a video of her mouthing the word “chink” as a teenager went viral, and soccer player and outspoken feminist Megan Rapinoe is currently facing controversy for a 2011 tweet addressed to fellow player Natasha Kai stating “u look asian with those closed eyes!”
Sesame Street has run a whole range of woke segments in recent months, to mixed reviews. In an episode in March, Wes and his father, both of whom are black, explained to Elmo that the color of their skin “is an important part of who we are.” Some commentators wondered at the time how such words would go down if a white character uttered them.
More recently, the show featured a married gay couple and their daughter in honor of Pride Month, to cheers from LGBT activists.
The show regularly comments on topical events, and its creators were panned last year for a “depressing” and “dystopian” CNN appearance warning kids to pack their social “distancing sticks” when returning to school during the coronavirus pandemic.
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