After the continuing backlash following an initial statement, the family venue now says it knows that what happened is not OK and is committed to making things right.
In a statement Monday night, the theme park said it will be conducting training for employees so “they better understand, recognize and deliver an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience to our guests.”
The statement was in response to a video a mother posted online showing her two Black daughters reaching their hands out to the Sesame Street character “Rosita” during a parade at the park in Langhorne, Bucks County on Saturday.
The video shows the character giving high-fives to others paradegoers as she nears the two kids.
Jodi Brown and her attorney told CNN on Tuesday that the Sesame Place character, Rosita, was intentionally racist toward her family.
The mother alleges the character motioned “no” and ignored her daughter and niece while interacting with other children.
“Right after the character passed them, there was another little girl next to them who was of a different race and [Rosita] hugged her,” Brown said.
She said the character embraced the other child with two arms. “At that time I had already stopped recording the video. … I was upset so I stopped the video because I was like ‘what just happened?'”
“The fact that this even happened, the fact that this is going to be a core memory for them when it comes to Sesame Place is actually disgusting and unbelievable,” added Brown.
In its original statement on Sunday, Sesame Place said in part, “The performer portraying the Rosita character has confirmed that the ‘no’ hand gesture seen several times in the video was not directed to any specific person…rather it was a response to multiple requests from someone in the crowd who asked Rosita to hold their child for a photo which is not permitted.”
Sesame Place said, “The costumes the performers wear sometimes make it difficult to see at lower levels and sometimes our performers miss hug requests from guests.”
In the initial statement, Sesame Place said the performer “did not intentionally ignore the girls” and was “devastated about the misunderstanding.”
“We apologize to these guests for not delivering the experience they expected and we commit to do our best to earn their and all guests’ visit and support,” the initial statement read.
But amid the fallout, several new videos have surfaced that appear to show similar incidents.
The park has not responded to those videos but says it has reached out to the family from last weekend’s video and invited them for a special meet-and-greet opportunity with the park characters.
On Monday night, Sesame Place issued a follow-up to the initial statement:
“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.”
B’Ivory LaMarr, who represents the family, said the park’s response is not enough.
LaMarr emphasized he’s still investigating what happened and looking at all their available options.
Brown and LaMaar are planning to have a news conference Wednesday with more details.
“At this point we’re calling for a genuine, authentic, apology, acknowledging the harm that has been caused in outrageousness of the actions and to do right, to make amends with the damage that’s been caused to these two young girls,” LaMarr said.
Sesame Workshop, the organization behind Sesame Street, issued a statement of its own:
“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 educational 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 long-term partner Sesame Place to ensure that appropriate actions are taken and that incidents like this do not happen in the future.”
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