UPDATED 7/19, 9:10 a.m. ET: When reached for comment by Complex, a rep for Sesame Place Philadelphia said it would be conducting training for employees “so they better understand, recognize, and deliver an inclusive, equitable, and entertaining experience” for visitors amid the ongoing controversy.
“We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience in our park on Saturday; we know that it’s not ok,” the rep said via email. “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.”
Meanwhile, per TMZ, the family of the children seen in the viral clip has now retained attorney B’Ivory LaMarr. Per the report, the current plan is to investigate the widely criticized incident, with the potential for an eventual lawsuit.
Activist Tamika Mallory, who previously spoke out over the incident, also joined the publication for an interview. See that below.
See original story below.
A children’s theme park based on the wide world of Sesame Street is under fire amid the sharing of quickly-made-viral footage showing a character seemingly declining to provide a high-five or other acknowledgment to two young Black girls.
The footage in question was shared by Instagram user @_jodiii__ and shows a park worker (in character as Rosita) at Sesame Place in Pennsylvania offering high-fives to parade observers before waving a “no” motion to someone off camera. The worker later appears to make the same motion in response to two Black children, who are clearly confused by this development.
Quickly, the footage (and the ensuing response from a park rep) gained traction online, as well as further amplification from noteworthy public figures including Kelly Rowland and Tamika Mallory.
“Our brand, our park, and our employees stand for inclusivity and equality in all forms,” read a statement from a park rep shared Sunday. “That is what Sesame Place is all about and we do not tolerate any behaviors in our parks that are contrary to that commitment. We also are, and have always been, committed to making sure every family and every child has the best possible experience at our parks and we are incredibly disappointed when that does not happen.”
Speaking more specifically, the rep claimed the currently-being-discussed incident was a result of the costume design not allowing for the wearer to “see at lower levels,” thus missing occasional requests from guests.
“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 crowed who asked Rosita to hold their child for a photo which is not permitted,” the rep said.
The rep added that park officials spoke with the family of the young children seen in the viral clip and also invited them back for a meet-and-greet experience with its roster of characters.
In response, Jodi—the woman who originally shared the now-viral clip—criticized the park’s statement and accused staff of merely trying to “save face” instead of taking legitimate actions.
“I will repost this video everyday until the situation is handled. Signed: A hurt mom,” she said in an Instagram Stories update Sunday night.
Complex has reached out to Sesame Place for additional comment.