Sesame Place accused of racism after mum posts video of Rosita’s character denying her black daughters hugging at parade
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Sesame Place in Philadelphia has been accused of racism after a mother posted a video allegedly showing someone dressed as Rosita character ignoring her two black daughters during a parade.
Ben Crump, the attorney credited with winning the record $27 million civil settlement for the family of George Floyd from the city of Minneapolis amid the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, reposted the video on Twitter and weighed in, writing, “This is absolutely CRISSANT!”
“These two young queens did NOT deserve to be singled out and blatantly ignored by this #SesameStreet character!” said Crump. “@SesamePlace MUST remedy the disgusting behavior of its staff!”
The video shows the two black girls, one stretching her wounds excitedly, waiting for Rosita’s character to pass them in a parade through the park, as an Elmo character waves from a backwards chariot -plan. Rosita’s character is seen clapping at least one child and one adult before shaking a finger no in an off-screen direction, then making a “no” gesture again before apparently walking past the girls disappointed.
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“I’m going to keep posting this, because it made me feel hot. We were about to leave Sesame and the kids wanted to stop by to see the characters. THIS DISGUSTING person openly said NO to our kids, then kissed the little white girl next to us!” the mother alleged in a post sharing the video on Instagram on Saturday. “Then when I went to complain about it they looked at me like I was crazy. I asked the lady who the character was and I wanted to see a supervisor and she told me that “SHE DIDN’T KNOW!! I will never step foot in @sesameplace ever again! And please feel free to repost this. In fact, give me my money back.”
But Sesame Place later released a statement apologizing and providing some background to the situation, saying the performer playing Rosita’s character “confirmed that the hand gesture ‘not’ seen repeatedly in the video was not directed at any specific person, rather it was a response to multiple requests from someone in the crowd who asked Rosita to hold their child up for a photo which is not permitted.”
“Rosita’s interpreter did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated by the misunderstanding,” Sesame Place Philadelphia’s first statement continued. “We have spoken to the family, apologized, and invited them back for a special occasion to meet our characters. We apologize to these guests for not delivering the experience they expected, and we promise to do our best to earn their and the visit and support of all guests.”
Sesame Place added that “the costumes our performers wear sometimes make it difficult to see at lower levels and sometimes our performers miss the hug request from guests.”
But that explanation still drew the ire of Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland, who commented in response, “These gorgeous girls will never forget that feeling! THEY ARE CHILDREN!!!!! You should have SHAME for this pathetic statement!”
Rowland also took to Instagram, sharing her story video for her 13.4 million followers.
“TF! This drove me so crazy! ” she wrote. In a follow-up message, she told viewers, “OK, if it was me, this whole parade would have been in flames.”
“Like, are you serious? You’re not going to talk to my child?” Rowland added. “And did you see that baby’s face at the end?” The little one with the pink? She deserves an explanation. Hello.
Other Twitter users opposed Sesame Place, including Leslie Mac, a digital strategist aligned with the Black Lives Matter Movement’s electoral justice project, and HBO actor Wendell Pierce, who exclaimed: “WITNESS TO THE END OF INNOCENCE. WITNESS TO THE TRAUMA. violence, scarring, psychological abuse.”
Sesame Place then issued a follow-up statement, promising equity training for its employees.
“We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience at our park on Saturday; we know it is not right. We are taking steps to do better,” Sesame Place Philadelphia said in a statement Monday. “We are committed to remedying this situation. We will organize training for our employees so that they understand, recognize and provide an inclusive, fair and entertaining experience for our customers.”
“For more than 40 years, Sesame Place has strived to uphold the values of respect, inclusion and belonging,” he added. “We are committed to doing a better job of making children and families feel special, seen and included when they come to our parks.”
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TMZ reported that the family of the black girls seen in the video have hired attorney B’Ivory LaMarr, are demanding an investigation and are considering the possibility of a lawsuit against the theme park.
“While we hate to rush to consider ‘race’ as the motivating factor in explaining the artist’s actions, such actions before and after the girl’s request lead to only one conclusion,” said LaMarr told TMZ.