by Alex Lloyd Gross
In a video posted to Instagram two black children are enjoying a parade when a character actor started to make way down what appeared to be a parade line. The Rosita character was high fiving several white children. Two black children were next in line and the character appeared to wave them off by waving “NO”, when they wanted a high five. The children’s mother, posted under the name of Jodi on social media and was outraged at what she saw.
Sesame Place issued a statement after the video went viral. It reads :We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience in our park on Saturday; we know that it’s not OK. We are taking actions to do better. We are committed to making this right. We will conduct training for our employees so they better understand, recognize and deliver an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience to our guests. For over 40 years Sesame Place has worked to uphold the values of respect, inclusion and belonging. We are committed to doing a better job making children and families feel special, seen and included when they come to our parks.”
The park initially claimed that the children wanted to be carried which is against their rules. They deny that the children were denied contact due to their race. Costumed characters at times have difficulty seeing small children due to the way the costume fits around their eyes.
When the mother wanted to speak with a supervisor, employees at the park told her they had no idea who the supervisor was. Guest service training will stipulate that the answer “I don’t Know” is never acceptable, especially if there is a complaint. Workers should acknowledge the complaint and work to address it. If that had been done, it is quite possible that this could have been rectified that day to the approval and satisfaction of the children and their mother.
Instead, B’Ivory LaMarr. a Texas based civil rights lawyer has been engaged by the family for a possible lawsuit, according to Levittown Now. Sesame Workshop licenses the characters and issued their own statement: “Sesame Workshop is aware of the recent incident at Sesame Place Philadelphia, which we take very seriously. What these children experienced is unacceptable. We have been in contact with Sesame Place, our licensed park partner, and they have assured us that they will conduct bias training and a thorough review of the ways in which they engage with families and guests. As a global nonprofit education organization with a mission to help children grow smarter, stronger and kinder. Sesame Workshop has always stood for respect, inclusion and belonging and is committed to providing the highest quality engaging experiences for all children and families. We hold our partners to the same high standards. We will continue working with our longterm partner Sesame Place to ensure that appropriate actions are taken and that incidents like this do not happen in the future.”
There is no information on who the person was that was behind the Rosita costume. The park did say the worker was “devastated” .