Sesame Place Accused of Racism in Wake of Viral Video, Releases Statement
Sesame Place has been accused of racism after a character in a parade appeared to ignore two young Black girls. The moment was captured on video and went viral on social media.
The video originated on Instagram and was posted by user @__jodiii__. She wrote that she took her daughters to Sesame Place — a theme park based on the characters from Sesame Street — near Philadelphia. They stopped to watch a parade on the way out of the park.
As the characters paraded by, a park employee in character as Rosita appeared to purposefully ignore the two young girls as they reached out for a hug or a high five. Footage appears to show character making a gesture telling them no.
The mother wrote that the moment had her "hot."
"THIS DISGUSTING person blatantly told our kids NO then proceeded to hug the little white girl next to us," she wrote. She added that she complained about the moment to park employees.
Watch the video below:
The footage also went viral on Twitter, where one video of the encounter has been viewed more than 4.4 million times.
Twitter users rushed to respond to the footage in the comments.
"Oh hell no," one wrote. "This is heartbreaking. Why are people so damn mean?"
"Are you kidding me," another added. "This just broke my heart."
Others shared similar sentiments while some even demanded to know the identity of the costumed employee.
Check out some tweets about the incident below:
Sesame Place responded to the backlash with a statement on Instagram.
"Our brand, our park and our employees stand for inclusivity and equality in all forms," they wrote. "That is what Sesame Place is all about and we do not tolerate any behaviors in our parks that are contrary to that commitment."
They added they are "incredibly disappointed" when they learn of visitors who don't have "the best possible experience at our parks."
"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 continued.
In regard to the video, Sesame Place claimed the hand gesture wasn't meant for the two little girls, but was instead directed at someone who wanted the character to hold their child for a photo.
"The Rosita performer did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated about the misunderstanding," the statement said.
Sesame Place also claimed they reached out to the original family from the video and attempted to make things right.
Read the full statement below:
However, user @__jodiii__ was far from impressed by the response. She made her feelings clear in an update on her Instagram Story.
"I whole heartedly feel as though that statement was released to save face," she wrote. The mother added that she hadn't heard from anyone at Sesame Place since the video went viral.
"[Sesame Place] instead of trying to save face you should of gave a public apology to my girls! That statement disrespectful and distasteful," she added.
Read her full statement below:
Meanwhile, others took to the comments under Sesame Place's statement to address additional videos of other Black children appearing to be ignored at the park. Three videos in particular also appear to feature the Rosita character.
Watch them below: