Dr. Jill Biden and Rosita the Muppet, who both come from military families, discussed the importance of being an "upstander" for people who are treated poorly

By Greg Hanlon
July 21, 2021 03:20 PM
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Dr. Jill Biden, Rosita
Dr. Jill Biden, Rosita
| Credit: Courtesy Sesame Workshop

Dr. Jill Biden and Rosita the Muppet have something in common: Both the first lady and the turqoise Sesame Street character come from military families.

Last week, the pair appeared together on Sesame Street to discuss racial diversity in the military and the importance of being an "upstander" who stands up to mistreatment of others. The conversation was part of Sesame Workshop's Coming Together racial literacy initiative, for which they are partnering with USAA to help military and veteran families start important conversations about bias with young children.

During the exchange, Rosita, who is bilingual and Mexican-American, says, "I am so proud that I have a Papi who serves in the military," and adds that she's proud to be Mexican-American.

She also says she's proud she's an "upstander": "That means I use kind words and actions to stand up for myself and my friends."

In response, Biden says, "Wow! You know what? I'm proud to be an upstander, too. It's important to treat everyone we meet with kindness and fairness and respect. If we see someone being treated unfairly, we should stand up for them."

Biden's father, Donald Carl Jacobs, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and used the GI Bill to put himself through business school, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Her late stepson, Beau Biden, received a Bronze Star Medal for his military service in Iraq. Throughout her career, the first lady has been active in causes that support the military, and in 2012 she wrote a children's book, Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops, which tells the story of Beau's deployment through the eyes of his daughter, Natalie.

In her Sesame Street appearance, Biden told Rosita, "Military friends are some of the kindest, bravest people I know. So I bet your friends are amazing upstanders. Please send them a big hello from me!"

Biden's appearance on Sesame Street marked the resumption of a tradition: Since Barbara Bush, every first lady has appeared on the show with the exception of Melania Trump, USA Today reports.

Recently, Sesame Workshop, with the support of USAA, released a new collection of resources to help young children grapple with the impacts of racism. Among these materials, available in both English and Spanish, are an interactive game that celebrates different skin colors and a music video addressing the feelings that come with experiencing bias and racism starring Rosita, Elmo and Wes, a Black Muppet boy.