A video of a Sesame Place employee went viral when she gave audience members high fives while ignoring two Black girls and walking away while dressed as the character Rosita. As a result, several individuals came forward and shared footage of alleged prejudice they experienced at Sesame Place.
Sesame Place is currently being sued for $25 million by a Baltimore family that alleges racial discrimination.
The family claims that at a meet and greet on June 18, four employees disguised as Sesame Street characters ignored Quinton Burns, his daughter Kennedi Burns, and other Black guests.
The lawsuit states that “SeaWorld’s performers readily engaged with numerous similarly situated white customers.”
“Kennedi was forced to experience racism at the age of five; this is unacceptable and we will not stand by and let this continue,” said the family’s attorney, Malcolm Ruff, at a news conference in Philadelphia.
The family is suing Sesame Place owner SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment for $25 million in damages. The lawsuit is allegedly filed on behalf of all Black visitors to the park since July 27, 2018, who experienced racism and prejudice from staff.
The family who first shared the footage of the bigotry at the Sesame Place theme park is also suing the park for discrimination.
After the video went viral, the theme park said that the employee was denying other parents who wanted their child to have a picture with the figure, not the two Black children.
A different video, however, emerged showing the employee hugging two white kids who were around the two Black kids even though there were no other parents present.
The complaint was prompted by a viral video that appeared to show Rosita ignoring two other black girls from New York during a procession at a park outside of Philadelphia called Langhorne.
In a statement, Sesame Place expressed regret for the situation and clarified that the actor wearing the Rosita costume was simply unable to see their daughter owing to the restricted range of vision of the outfit.
The video triggered more families to come forward with similar experiences.
Sesame Place responded to the lawsuit in a statement sent to Eyewitness News, saying: ‘We will review the lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Burns. We look forward to addressing that claim through the established legal process. We are committed to delivering an inclusive, equitable, and entertaining experience for all our guests.”
In a statement on Sunday, theme park officials called the now-viral moment a ‘misunderstanding,’ saying the mascot likely did not see the girls due to limited vision in the costume’s unwieldy mask.
‘Our brand, our park, and our employees stand for inclusivity and equality in all forms,’ the statement read. ‘That is what Sesame Place is all about and we do not tolerate any behaviors in our parks that are contrary to that commitment.’
‘We also are, and always have been, committed to making sure every family and every child has the best possible experience at our parks and we are incredibly disappointed when that does not happen.’
‘We spoke to the family and extended our apologies and invited them back for a special meet-and-greet opportunity with our characters,’ the statement read.
‘We apologize to these guests for not delivering the experience they expected and we commit to doing our best to earn their and all guests’ visit and support,’ the statement concluded.