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‘Steven Universe’ characters lead Cartoon Network’s new antiracism PSAs

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Garnet has a message for kids: Don’t be racist.

Cartoon Network has launched a series of online antiracism PSAs featuring characters from its hit series “Steven Universe.” The first short, titled “Don’t Deny It, Defy It,” debuted Tuesday on the new website crystalgemsspeakup.com, which also offers links to additional resources and social justice organizations.

The video shows Garnet (voiced by Estelle), one of the Crystal Gems, and three kids on set discussing racism while on break during the filming of a public service announcement. When one of the kids 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.

“You have to acknowledge racism to work against it,” says Garnet.

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Developed by “Steven Universe” creator Rebecca Sugar and “O.K. KO! Let’s Be Heroes” creator Ian Jones-Quartey, the PSAs are intended to help kids and families have productive conversations about racism. Each of the four PSAs will feature a different character from “Steven Universe.”

A woman and three kids in a park
Garnet and some kids get honest about racism in an online PSA for Cartoon Network.
(Cartoon Network)

This first PSA — created in partnership with Dr. Allen Lipscomb, a specialist who provides anti-oppressive inclusive mental health services to people and families of color — addresses the importance of understanding the effects of racism.

“Steven Universe,” which debuted in 2013, was hailed throughout its run for its LGBTQ-inclusive storytelling and thoughtful story lines by both fans and critics. The magical, musical coming-of-age story centered on a boy named Steven, who helped save the universe with his empathy.

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An epilogue series, which followed a slightly more grown-up Steven, concluded its run earlier this year.

The series of PSAs will be released bimonthly and shared across Cartoon Network’s YouTube and social media channels.

“Steven Universe” creator Rebecca Sugar explains why LGBTQ representation was central to the show — and looks back on how it made TV history.


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