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During the weekend, sesame streetSesame Place’s licensed amusement park has faced backlash after a video that appears to show two young black girls being ignored by a costumed character from the Philadelphia park circulated online.
The video, which was job on Instagram by the mother of one of the girls, shows someone dressed as Muppet Rosita waving at a crowd of fans before waving “no” just before walking past the black children, who are reaching for high fives. The video ends before the mascot walks away, but the mom who posted it wrote that Rosita then hugged a white girl standing next to them. She also claims she asked another employee who was inside the suit and to see a supervisor, but was told “she doesn’t know.”
The video quickly circulated online, where it prompted Major backlash. Kelly Rowland shared it in an Instagram story and talked about it during a interview at the red carpet premiere of Nopewhere she said: “When I saw this and it was an extension of what I learned and loved growing up sesame street and Sesame Place, I don’t know which place I saw. It made two beautiful little girls feel like they just weren’t there. Wendell Pierce also reposted the video, writing, “This moment is violent, healing, emotional abuse. Looking at him reminds me of mine. Meanwhile, other videos emerged showing what appear to be more examples of mascots in the park ignoring black children while paying attention to white children.
On Monday, the park — which is one of two sesame street– theme parks owned and operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment – released a statement apologizing for the incident, which he called a misunderstanding. “The costumes our performers wear sometimes make it difficult to see at lower levels and sometimes our performers miss hug requests from guests,” the statement read. He also said that the person inside the costume “confirmed that the ‘no’ hand gesture seen repeatedly in the video was not directed at a specific person”, saying he was acting “in response to multiple requests from someone in the crowd who asked Rosita to hold their child for a photo which is not permitted. The statement continued: “Rosita’s performer intentionally did not ignored the girls and is devastated by the misunderstanding.”
The statement also claimed that Sesame Place representatives had spoken with the family to apologize for what had happened and had invited them back for a “special meeting occasion.” A instagram story from The mother who posted the original video seems to confirm that Sesame Place contacted her to discuss what happened. However, she later responded to his statement in her Stories, saying her daughter and niece weren’t the ones who requested a photo and that Sesame Place stopped communicating with her once the video went viral. “Don’t try to tell me he can’t see the lower levels,” she wrote, referring to the costumed park employee. “He looked at them and said no!! So embarrassing and hurtful. Leslie Mac, the great aunt of one of the girls who was also at the park at the time of the incident, claimed on Twitter that the family and the children had never been invited back.
Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization that owns sesame streetissued a statement on Twitter, writing that he has also been in touch with Sesame Place, which is operated under an exclusive license from Sesame Workshop. Sesame Workshop wrote that the amusement park “assured us that it would conduct bias training and a thorough review of how it interacts with families and guests.” On Monday, sesame place released another statement, writing that the girls’ experience was “not okay” and reiterating that the park is planning employee bias training.