Padma Lakshmi Is 'So Proud To Be Part Of' This Sesame Street Special

"Sesame Street" is a classic children's show that is dear to the hearts of many youngsters past and present. Often known for teaching acceptance of others, the program has been considered influential worldwide (via American University). Broadcast in more than 150 countries, "Sesame Street" had 30 co-productions as of April 2021, meaning any stance the show takes or values it expresses are shared with a large and highly diverse audience. 

Padma Lakshmi shared a clip of her recent experience as a guest on the iconic show with the new character Ji-Young, captioning the video, "Representation is so important!! Especially for young ones. As Ji-Young says, 'I can show people who look like me that our stories matter,'" (via Instagram). The Food Network star is referring to the representation of members of the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) communities. While the post made no connection to the pandemic, it's worth observing that in the period between March 2020 and June 2021, more than 9,000 Anti-Asian incidents, including hate crimes against Asian-Americans, were reported domestically, according to Stop AAPI Hate (via NPR). So this episode is a positive moment at a time that has seen a lot of intolerance.

Continued Lakshmi in her post, "I'm so proud to be part of @sesamestreet's special #SeeUsComingTogether, a celebration of Asian identities & the power of community. Watch me and my other AAPI friends like @chefmelissaking, @naomiosaka, @simuliu and more! Now streaming on @HBOMax & @PBSKids!"

Sesame Street leads the way for inclusion

"Sesame Street"'s television special, "See Us Coming Together," first aired in 2021 (via IMDb) and features the muppet-filled cast coming together for "Neighbor Day" as part of the show's racial justice initiative (via Sesame Workshop). It focuses on the "rich diversity of Asian and Pacific Islander communities." The new puppet, Ji-Young, is described as "a seven-year-old Korean American character performed by Sesame Workshop puppeteer Kathleen Kim." In addition to Lakshmi Lakshmi, the special features a number of celebrities, including actress Anna Cathcart, chef Melissa King, and tennis player Naomi Osaka. 

Lakshmi's post about the program was well-received. One fan shared, "My heart!! Making us proud! Samosa love for all," and another added, "I have a new favorite muppet!" (via Instagram). Yet one more fan summed up the sentiment of this special well: "How cool are you to be on Sesame Street. I think it is very important that kids learn about different cultures. Love and respect for one and other make the world go round." 

When asked last year about how "Sesame Street" could keep encouraging diversity, author and professor Naomi Moland shared, "'Sesame Street' and its 30+ international iterations have continually evolved in their approaches to addressing diversity, and it will be fascinating to watch how these programs continue to adapt" (via American University). "See Us Coming Together" can be watched across multiple different platforms including HBO Max, PBSKids, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and is available to view now.