Cartoon Network enlisted the Steven Universe character to teach children about anti-racism (Cartoon Network/YouTube)
Steven Universe may have left our screens but Garnet’s still on hand to remind kids about flexibility, love and trust.
Cartoon Network enlisted Rebecca Sugar’s most authoritative Crystal Gem for a series of children’s anti-racism PSAs broadcast online and on TV.
The first short, titled “Don’t Deny It, Defy It,” debuted Tuesday on the new website Crystal Gems Speak Up, which also offers links to social justice organisations and additional resources.
The video shows two boys playing happily in a playground. In a casual nod to LGBT+ representation, one says to the other: “Hey, when we’re older let’s get married!”
A third child then appears between them and laughs at the boys. “You can’t get married,” she says mockingly. “Black people can’t marry white people!”
This is where Garnet steps in with a very important message: “Kids! Don’t be racist.”
The lesson doesn’t stop there, though: the PSA continues by exploring racism and explaining its impact in terms that are simple enough for even very young children to understand.
When one of the characters expresses skepticism that racist incidents actually happen “in real life”, the others explain that just because some people don’t experience racism doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
“Everyone messes up sometimes, but you gotta realise it hurts to deal with racism, and when people act like it’s not real, it makes it even worse,” one boy tells another.
“You have to acknowledge racism to work against it,” reminds Garnet, voiced by Estelle. “You kids better work on this before the wedding,” she then adds with a wink, another subtle touch normalising LGBT+ relationships.
The characters of Steven Universe are no strangers to the world of PSAs – the show had previously partnered with Dove to promote body positivity and anti-bullying.
The heartwarming cartoon concluded its run earlier this year, having been hailed by fans and critics for its sensitive LGBT-inclusive storytelling and positive role modelling for children.