Black Family Files $25 Million Lawsuit Against Sesame Street Amusement Park for Alleged Discrimination (UPDATE)

A Black family from Baltimore has filed a $25 million discrimination lawsuit against the Sesame Street theme park Sesame Place over alleged racism.

Sesame Place characters performing during a parade in 2013

Image via Getty/Gilbert Carrasquillo

Sesame Place characters performing during a parade in 2013

UPDATED 8/10 2:20 p.m. ET: SeaWorld’s Sesame Place in Pennsylvania has announced plans to tackle accusations of intentional discrimination by employees at its theme park.

As TMZ reported, higher-ups at the park have announced a series of initiatives to address criticism of costumed employees at the park ignoring Black children. The park plans to implement a racial equity assessment of employees to determine what is expected of those working at the park, and new operating procedures for those currently staffed there. Both internal and external stakeholders will do the assessments, and everyone who works there will be required to undergo mandatory anti-bias training.

Any future potential employees will need to undergo all the same training going forward, too. SeaWorld also confirmed the park has committed to a diversity, equity, and inclusion program. 

See original story below.

A Black family from Baltimore has filed a $25 million discrimination lawsuit against SeaWorld’s Sesame Street theme park Sesame Place over an alleged racist interaction, the Associated Press reports.

Quinton Burns alleges that four employees in Sesame Street costumes ignored him, his daughter Kennedi, and other Black guests during a meet-and-greet at the amusement park on June 18. The employees who are accused of ignoring Black guests have been named as defendants in the lawsuit, which alleges the company behind the park knew the performers held racial biases. 

The park, which is located in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, shared a statement last month addressing the allegations. “We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience in our park on Saturday; we know that it’s not ok,” a representative for the park told Complex. “We will conduct training for our employees so they better understand, recognize and deliver an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience to our guests.”

Footage of  the alleged discrimination also surfaced online, which attorney B’Ivory Lamarr said appears to support claims that Black children were ignored by the characters. The clip in question shows a park employee dressed as character Rosita, who then gives high-fives to a few white patrons before seemingly ignoring two young Black girls and walking away. 

The park denied that the performer deliberately snubbed the girls, and said that a “no” hand gesture in the clip was not directed at anyone in particular. “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,” the park wrote in a statement, adding, “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.” 

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