“We were on our way out of Sesame Place and the kids wanted to stop to see the characters. This gross person bluntly said NO to our kids and then hugged the little white girl next to us!” Jodi Brown wrote on Instagram. “Then when I complained about it, they looked at me like I was crazy.”
The video has gone viral in recent days, with many online followers calling for a boycott of the park.
Sesame Place Philadelphia initially apologized in a statement on Instagram, but noted Sunday that the costumes “sometimes make it difficult to see at lower levels” and that “performers sometimes miss hug requests from guests.” The park said the performer’s “no” hand gesture wasn’t specifically aimed at the girls, but “in response to multiple requests from someone in the crowd asking Rosita to hold her child for a picture, which isn’t allowed.” .
“The Rosita actor did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated by the misunderstanding,” Park said.
But when the family denied the apology and the Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind “Sesame Street,” called the experience the kids went through “unacceptable,” the park apologized more directly to The Post on Tuesday.
“We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience at our park on Saturday; we know it’s not okay,” a spokesman said in a statement. “We are taking action to make it better. We are committed to doing this right.”
A park spokesman added that Sesame Place Philadelphia “will conduct training for our employees to better understand, recognize, and provide an inclusive, equitable, and fun experience for our guests.”
LaMarr told The Post that the family is considering their options, including a possible lawsuit, as other videos allegedly show the performer in question refusing to engage with children of color at the park.
“We don’t want to just be racing all the time, but unfortunately there is only one logical conclusion that can be drawn from these facts,” said LaMarr.
Located just outside of Philadelphia, Sesame Place has entertained millions of guests over the past 42 years. It is one of only two parks in the United States based entirely on “Sesame Street,” one of the longest-running television programs in the world. The park has a license agreement with Sesame Workshop and is operated by SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment.
Rosita, a turquoise, bilingual Muppet from Mexico, first appeared on “Sesame Street” in 1991. She often performs the “Spanish Word of the Day” on the show.
According to the Instagram video, the Sesame Square performer, who portrays Rosita at one of the park’s parades on Saturday, is shown waving to guests in front of a float carrying Elmo. After high-fiving a young girl, Brown’s daughter and niece stretch out their arms in hopes of interacting with Rosita. But when the performer waves “no” to them before walking away, one of the young girls looks dejected as the character walks off frame.
The video, which has been viewed more than 555,000 times, caused a furor on the internet. Actor Wendell Pierce related the incident to an experience from his own childhood, calling it “violent” and “scarring.” Singer Kelly Rowland said on her Instagram Story that watching the video made her “so angry.”
“If that was me, the whole parade would have gone up in flames,” Rowland said. “What, are you serious? You will not speak to my child? And did you see the baby’s face at the end? The little one with the pink on? She deserves an explanation.”
When Sesame Place released its first apology, LaMarr said the family believed the statement was “just not real.”
“They’re trying to say anything to placate the public considering they’re endangering one of the ‘Sesame Street’ characters we’ve all come to love,” the attorney said. “These 6-year-old girls who really like this character are discouraged; Their hearts are broken.”
Brown echoed the sentiment, responding on her Instagram Story that Sesame Place was just “added an insult to injury.”
“I really tried to deal with this situation [as] calm as possible but I’m hurt and this reaction only made it worse! The character could have just waved at everyone or just walked on, but look at my kids bluntly and say no… Don’t try to tell me he can’t see lower levels. He looked at her and said no!! So embarrassing and hurtful.”
The performer has not been publicly identified, and it’s unclear if the employee has faced disciplinary action since the video went viral. Sesame Place emphasized that the park “has worked to uphold the values of respect, inclusion, and belonging.”
“We are committed to doing a better job of making children and families feel special, seen and included when they come to our parks,” the spokesman said.
LaMarr told the Post that the family’s ultimate goal is to be accountable to the park. He noted the 6-year-old girls are so hurt they plan to seek therapy in response to what the family describes as discriminatory behavior at the park.
“It’s a matter of principle,” LaMarr said. “We want to make sure they don’t carry on as usual.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/07/19/sesame-place-philadelphia-black-girls-video/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wp_lifestyle Sesame Place apologizes after Rosita appears to brush off 6-year-old black girls at Philadelphia Park