Steven Universe's Final Anti-Racism PSA Is For the Allies

Pearl lamenting that the Crystal Gems aren’t even human.
Pearl lamenting that the Crystal Gems aren’t even human.
Screenshot: Cartoon Network

In each of Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe anti-racism public service announcements, a different Crystal Gem has stepped outside of the cartoon’s typical action/adventure box to share some important wisdom with viewers about why discrimination and bigotry are anything but. io9's got a first look at at the latest short, which has an equally important message for anti-racism allies.

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“Be An Ally,” the final installment in the PSA series, Steven Universe’s original trio of Crystal Gems team back up to have a frank discussion with Steven’s father Greg about why none of them can fully understand what it means to be on the receiving end of discrimination targeted at non-white humans, because that isn’t what any of them are.

Even though characters like Garnet were obviously designed with people of color in mind—and Steven Universe had one of the more notably diverse voice casts in the modern animation space—“Be An Ally” emphasizes why it’s necessary to understand that, because the Gems aren’t humans and because Greg’s white, they all can be allies in the fight against systemic racism they witness in their everyday lives.

It’s typically been the Gems who show up to drop knowledge on you in these shorts. But by focusing on Greg, “Be An Ally” leads with the very simple and easy to understand reality that historically marginalized people can not be single-handedly responsible for dismantling the systems that discriminate against them. As Steven Universe’s resident rich white guy, Greg in particular has a responsibility to put his money where his mouth is, but the message the PSA’s trying to get across is worth internalizing regardless of one’s race or socioeconomic class. Because, well, racism is wrong, and when you see it, you should do something to stamp it out.

Steven Universe, Steven Universe Future, and Steven Universe: The Movie are now streaming on HBO Max.


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Charles Pulliam-Moore is an NYC-based culture critic whose work centers on fandom, pop culture, politics, race, and sexuality. He still thinks Cyclops made a few valid points.

DISCUSSION

lightninglouie
lightninglouie

I’d just like to take this opportunity to mention how much I love Tom Scharpling, the voice of Greg Universe, one of the truly great unsung heroes — hell, superheroes — of modern comedy. He effectively invented comedy podcasting with Jon Wurster on The Best Show On WFMU back twenty years ago (before podcasting or pod-anything existed), and continues to produce new weekly programs with the current Best Show incarnation and Double Threat with Julie Klausner. If you’ve enjoyed his voicework on Steven Universe, consider giving them a shot.

Also, he’s got a memoir coming out this July, It Never Ends, and it sounds fucking amazing. If you like humor that’s absurd and strange but also deeply humane, empathetic, and erudite, he’s your guy.