Listen to Garnet: "You have to acknowledge racism to work against it."

By Nick Romano
October 27, 2020 at 02:35 PM EDT
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Steven Universe is back, but not in the way you might have expected. After concluding the beloved animated series with Steven Universe Future in March, Emmy-nominated creator Rebecca Sugar developed a series of antiracism PSAs with her collaborator and husband, Ian Jones-Quartey, creator of OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes.

The first PSA, titled "Don't Deny It, Defy It," is one of four that will roll out every two months, with characters from Steven Universe teaching kids to be antiracist.

Tuesday's debut highlights Garnet, voiced by Estelle, who assists two boys on a PSA film set to help their costar realize that "you have to acknowledge racism to work against it." Sugar and Jones-Quartey co-wrote and co-directed the animated video.

Keeping with Sugar and Jones-Quartey's initiative to promote LGBTQ representation, the video begins with two boys — one Black, one white — holding hands down a slide when they suggest getting married one day. Garnet must intervene when a third boy says Black people can't marry white people. When the cameras stop rolling, it's a different issue: One of the child actors doesn't believe situations like the one they just acted out actually happen in the world. "Just because this has never happened to you doesn't mean it doesn't happen," Garnet says.

"Everyone messes up sometimes, but you've got to realize it hurts to deal with racism," one boy says. "And when people act like it's not real, it makes it feel even worse." That's why, as the tagline promotes, "don't deny" racism, "defy it."

In a literal and metaphorical wink to the audience, Garnet jokes, "You kids better work on this before the wedding." Steven Universe featured a historic episode arc on the Cartoon Network kids show in which female-identifying Ruby and Sapphire got married and formed the combined entity that is Garnet.

The PSA was made in partnership with Dr. Allen Lipscomb, a specialist in providing inclusive, anti-oppressive mental health services. It also comes with the launch of a new Crystal Gems Speak Up website with a list of resources, like the National Black Justice Coalition and National Bail Out collective, provided by Cartoon Network.

To help combat systemic racism, please consider donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero, which is dedicated to ending police brutality in America through research-based strategies.
  • Color of Change, which works to move decision makers in corporations and government to be more responsive to racial disparities.
  • Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal services to people who have been wrongly convicted, denied a fair trial, or abused in state jails and prisons.

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