It goes without saying that when parents brings their children to an amusement park, they're expecting to give them a fun, memorable experience. However, a mother who brought her two children to Sesame Place Philadelphia is claiming that the youngsters were shunned by Sesame Street character Rosita while all of the surrounding children weren't, something she sees as a blatant act of racism.
The video, which has since gone viral, has now sparked countless accusations of racism and unfair behavior from users online rallying against Sesame Place. So, what exactly went down? Let's unpack what we know about the situation as it currently stands.
A viral video of a Sesame Street character ignoring two Black children led to racism allegations about Sesame Place.
A video shared by a mother who goes by Jodi on Instagram details a moment where her two children are apparently ignored by a passing character during one of the park's parades. In the clip, an actor dressed as Rosita is walking down a street waving at and embracing park-goers. When Rosita approaches Jodi's two children, who are waiting eagerly with their hands out and calling its name, the actor shakes their hand at the children and brushes them away.
Understandably, Jodi is upset about the way that the actor singled out her children.
"I’m going to keep posting this, because this had me hot," she led off the caption of the original video by saying. "We were on our way out of Sesame Place and the kids wanted to stop to see the characters. This disgusting person blatantly told our kids no then proceeded to hug the little white girl next to us!"
Jodi continued by adding, "Then when I went to complain about it, they looking at me like I’m crazy. I asked the lady who the character was and I wanted to see a supervisor and she told me she didn't know! I will never step foot in Sesame Place ever again! And please feel free to repost this. ... It got me so mad when he blatantly told them no."
Singer Kelly Rowland reposted the video and shared her thoughts on it all.
Once the video reached the attention of wider audiences, the comments were flooded by users outraged by what Jodi and her children experienced at Sesame Place. On top of that, many vowed in their responses to never patronize the amusement park ever again.
One such user who took particular offense in the video was singer Kelly Rowland, who posted a video to her Instagram story sharing her feelings about the ordeal.
"OK so had that been me, that whole parade would have been in flames," the star said to her followers. "Like, are you serious? You're not going to speak to my child? And did you see that baby's face at the end? The little one with the pink on? She deserves an explanation."
Sesame Street responded to the incident and claimed no wrongdoing.
In an official statement shared in the wake of the video going viral, Sesame Street denied claims that the actor portraying Rosita's actions was racially motivated.
"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 from the theme park said.
It continued, "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."
In conclusion, Sesame Place stated that "the Rosita performer did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated about the misunderstanding." Nonetheless, they invited Jodi and her children back for "a special meet-and-greet opportunity with our characters."
Plenty of users felt the company's response was lackluster, and their recent social media posts being littered with angry comments is indicative that a PR statement and a few niceties may not be enough to smooth this over.
When the statement was posted on Sesame Street's Instagram, Kelly also commented in defense of the two young girls. "Those gorgeous girls will never forget that feeling," she said. "THEY ARE KIDS!!!!! You should be ASHAMED of yourselves for this pathetic statement!"
Sesame Place has released another statement and says there will be bias training.
The initial statement didn't go over well with a lot of people. Afterward, it was announced that the nonprofit Sesame Workshop would conduct bias training and review "the ways in which they engage families and guests" at the theme park.
"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," Sesame Workshop said in a statement.
Unfortunately for Sesame, those who responded to this weren't happy with this response either. "Incidents? There are multiple videos of Black kids getting passed over," said one person on Twitter. "This statement is just terrible." the claim about multiple videos does seem to be true, as you can see here, here, and here.
"Once is an anomaly. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is a pattern," said someone else.