A Baltimore family is suing the Sesame Street-themed amusement park “Sesame Place” for the hefty sum of $25 million—alleging that racist, white supremacist costumed Sesame Street characters at the theme park deliberately snubbed their five-year-old daughter for the color of her skin.
The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Philadelphia against SeaWorld Parks, which is the owner of the Sesame Place theme park, and accuses the company of “pervasive and appalling race discrimination.” The suit is also seeking class-action status, amidst a recent spate of dubious and context-free videos allegedly showing the vile, internalized racism harbored by Sesame Place employees.
Specifically, the lawsuit claims that four park employees dressed as popular Sesame Street characters deliberately ignored Quinton Burns and his daughter Kennedi Burns, as well as other black guests during a “meet-and-greet” on June 18. All of this comes after another viral video that shows an employee dressed in a costume of the character Rosita apparently snubbing two black girls from New York.
“Just looking at her face, it makes me want to cry every time I see it,” Quinton Burns said of the incident involving his daughter during a press conference.
Sesame Place has apologized for the incident, saying that the actors in the suits were simply unable to see the children due to a limited field of vision in the costume. The theme park also responded to the lawsuit in a statement to the local CBS station: “We will review the lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Burns. We look forward to addressing that claim through the established legal process. We are committed to deliver an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience for all our guests.”
But Malcolm Ruff, one of the family’s remarkably numerous lawyers, wasn’t having any of it.
“She was ignored amongst a sea of other young white children who were able to interact, give hugs, high fives,” he said. “Kennedi was forced to experience racism at the age of 5. This is unacceptable and we will not stand by and let this continue.”
With admirable predictability, members of the Congressional Black Caucus took time from their busy legislative schedule to demand a meeting with Sesame Place leadership to immediately address the issue.
“Over the past week,” the caucus members said, “we’ve seen multiple glaring examples of racism coming from the park, including the viral video in which two beautiful little black girls were blatantly rejected by a character they idolized while white children were embraced.”
B) CBC says “Over the past week, we’ve seen multiple glaring examples of racism coming from the park, including the viral video in which two beautiful little Black girls were blatantly rejected by a character they idolized while white children were embraced”
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) July 23, 2022
In a statement released on Sunday, theme park officials reiterated that the incidents in question were the result of a “misunderstanding,” and that there were no ulterior racist motivations on the part of Sesame Street’s admittedly somewhat unsavory characters.
“Our brand, our park and our employees stand for inclusivity and equality in all forms. 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 always have 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.”
The statement added: “We spoke to the family and extended our apologies and invited them back for a special meet-and-greet opportunity with our characters,” and stressed that the employee in the Rosita costume “did not intentionally ignore the girls and is 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 statement concluded.
Perhaps what’s needed now is a Congressional inquiry into the systemic prevalence of white supremacists and fascist sympathizers on Sesame Street.
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