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JLeslie's avatar

Regarding the Sesame Street duo Bert and Ernie, was Ernie Black?

Asked by JLeslie (63058points) February 26th, 2022

I never thought of Ernie as being Black. He’s a puppet. Lol. Ms. Piggy is pink. Cookie monster is blue. I never took the color of a puppet in a sort of serious way.

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22 Answers

nightwolf5's avatar

I always thought Ernie was supposed to be orange.

Jeruba's avatar

He’s orange. Bert is yellow. Muppets are the color they are.

rebbel's avatar

After a few hours I’m coming back to this question (the first time I read it I was half asleep still) and I still have no idea where you are wanting to go with this question?
Absurdism?
Weird fascination with Puppetism?
Racism?
The struggles that is color blindness?
Or do I miss a certain (American) news reference?

canidmajor's avatar

Ernie is orange. But if your young child barfs on your personal Ernie, and he goes through the washer and a hot dryer, his hair will lose that flyaway quality and he will, forever after, have a short ‘fro.

JLeslie's avatar

Ok, everyone thinks like me. He’s just a puppet.

JLeslie's avatar

I googled a little and found the link below about Sesame Street. It talks about the set being modeled after a Harlem street. As a kid I never paid attention to the set, it was just a street to me. The actors looked like people I interacted with living in NY. I never thought about race or ethnicity at all watching the show. I wonder how kids in the very white suburban communities in America back in the 60’s and 70’s saw the show?

I read some articles saying Bert and Ernie were gay. That never occurred to me either. In fact, as an adult, I think it’s nice they show two male puppets together, because men seem to have fewer friendships than women and friendships are important in life. Here’s the link:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/unmistakable-black-roots-sesame-street-180973490/

I watched Sesame Street in black and white as a child. I didn’t really learn the colors of the characters until later. My family bought It’s first color TV when I was 14. I remember Ernie as orange-brown.

Here’s Ernie over the years. https://muppet.fandom.com/wiki/Ernie_Through_the_Years

kritiper's avatar

I never did see muppets as representative of any particular human race. They are just puppets.

Dutchess_III's avatar

When I was a Christian there were frantic rumors going around that Bert n Ernie were (gasp) gay!!!!

Inspired_2write's avatar

Link to show efforts to remake Seseme Street characters to include all races.
This link add Asian character but there is also a black , muslin and other ethnicities included.( in last few months online).

https://thehill.com/changing-america/enrichment/arts-culture/581571-sesame-street-unveils-new-muppet-to-fight-racial

Jeruba's avatar

@JLeslie, he’s a Muppet.

Now you could really stir things up if you ask how we know he’s a he.

Dutchess_III's avatar

And people with handicaps and developmental disabilities.
Bert n Ernie preceeded all that.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba Oh gosh. I’d rather not stir things up. I think some adults really over think the whole thing. Don’t most children simply think in terms of the world being full of adults, kids, older kids, and muppets and not worry if someone is married, Asian, white, or all these other details that are irrelevant when we interact with people.

rebbel's avatar

May I ask, @JLeslie, what was your underlying reason to ask this question?
Because, even though you might have a totally different reason, to me it raised the question if you were asking it to stir something.
Like I said, I’m probably wrong in that assumption, but I am curious.

Jeruba's avatar

@JLeslie, no, I don’t actually believe that kids think that simply, any more than I think they’re happiest living in an environment of primary colors (shudder). I just think most adults are oblivious to the subtleties and complexities of a child’s mind, which is set in a context alien to most adults. Literature that real children love and remember and return to is a big clue to understanding their minds; and no, it does not necessarily mean believing in magical beings.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba So, when you were six years old you reacted differently to people of different races or ethnicities? I’m not saying kids aren’t aware that some people have darker or lighter skin than others, but having judgments and prejudices? We all played together. We were all different in some way.

What literature? At six years old I was mostly still reading picture books.

Plus, the muppets were red, blue, green, and yellow, or actually on my TV shades of grey. Even the human beings were on a black and white TV screen on my TV as a child.

I do agree adults often have a hard time remembering or knowing how a child’s mind works.

@rebbel Someone was talking about it and I never thought of Bert and Ernie as any race, they were just puppets to me, so I wondered what the collective thought.

The article posted above about adding an Asian muppet, I wonder if Asian children feel they aren’t represented on Sesame Street? I don’t think of muppets as being white, or any race, but I still related to the stories. I realize adding an Asian muppet isn’t only for Asian children to feel represented, but also for children who aren’t Asian to be compassionate and see them as equals.

So, actually, here they are purposely putting in a race and ethnicity when I think during my day of Sesame Street the muppets didn’t have that, except for Kermit singing it wasn’t easy being green. Or, maybe race related dialogue went over my head or I don’t remember. The actors on the show were diverse, but I lived in NY so that was totally normal to me.

I haven’t watched Sesame Street in 40 years my memory might be off.

anniereborn's avatar

@JLeslie I was a kid in a very white suburban community in America back in the 60’s and 70’s and I saw it the same as you.

Forever_Free's avatar

Ernie wasn’t Black nor gay. It was a puppet. The show was leading edge about diversity anyway.

Why even go there?
All characters and events depicted are entirely fictitious. Any similarity to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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Mic Drop!

canidmajor's avatar

Profiling Muppets by race and sexual orientation…the Muppet Union Rep gonna be all over this.

JLeslie's avatar

@Forever_Free What do you think about the new Asian muppet? I just read about her in that article linked above by another jelly.

The two old guys in the theatre balcony I definitely perceived as modeled after two old white guys. I don’t think they were on Sesame Street though.

Bert and Ernie were never any race to me.

rebbel's avatar

Me thinks all puppets were puppets.

Also Waldorf and Steinway.

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