Mom thinks Sesame Place character was intentionally racist towards two 6-year-old black girls

Jodi Brown and her attorney told CNN on Tuesday that Sesame Place character Rosita was intentionally racist toward her niece and daughter.

In the nine-second video shared by Brown, on Instagram, her daughter and niece are seen reaching out for a hug from the character, Rosita. In the video, Rosita is seen clapping other people’s hands before seemingly wagging her finger at an unidentified person, then shaking her head no at Brown’s daughter and niece before walking away of them.

Brown told CNN that Rosita’s character was walking down the parade route giving a high-five and hugging other children when the character intentionally ignored her daughter and niece.

“Right after the character passed them, there was another little girl next to them who was of a different race and [Rosita] kissed her,” Brown said.

She said the character hugged the other child with two arms. “By then I had already stopped recording the video. … I was upset, so I stopped the video because I was like ‘what just happened? “”

In a new statement Tuesday evening, Sesame Place said they spoke to and apologized to the family on Sunday for the experience they had, refunded expenses and offered them a return visit.

“On Sunday, we spoke and apologized to the family for the experience, offering a return trip for a personalized meet and greet experience with the characters,” the statement said. “We have offered to reimburse his visiting expenses. This reimbursement has been processed, but has not yet been received.”

“It is not acceptable to us that children and families do not feel special, seen and included in our park. Our artists work here to entertain and inspire all children – to disappoint none of them”, according to the press release.

“No child should ever leave our park feeling let down or ignored. This is the opposite of what our park is meant to inspire in children. We want every child who comes to the park to have a positive and memorable experience. And we we are committed to learning all we can from this situation and making the necessary changes.As previously stated, we will be providing additional training to Sesame Place employees to help them better understand, recognize and provide an inclusive, fair and fun experience at our clients.

The video first shared by Brown on Instagram after Saturday’s incident quickly sparked outrage. Sesame Place Philadelphia originally released a statement on Monday calling the incident a “misunderstanding.”

“The performer portraying the character of Rosita confirmed that the ‘no’ hand gesture seen repeatedly in the video was not directed at any specific person, but rather a response to multiple requests from someone in the crowd who asked Rosita to hold their child for a photo that is not allowed Rosita’s interpreter did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated by the misunderstanding.

When CNN explained what the park meant by “misunderstanding,” Sesame Place Philadelphia sent CNN an “updated statement” which was also posted to Instagram Monday night, saying:

“We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience at our park on Saturday; we know that’s not right. We are taking steps to do better. We are committed to fixing it. We will organize training for our employees so that they understand, recognize and provide an inclusive, fair and entertaining experience for our customers.”

“For more than 40 years, Sesame Place has strived to uphold the values ​​of respect, inclusion and belonging. We are committed to doing a better job of 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 was not enough.

In the caption of the video, the mother called the incident “disgusting”.

“I will never set foot in @sesameplace again!” The mom who goes by Jodiii on Instagram said.

“And please feel free to repost this. In fact, give me my money back.”

LaMarr, stressed that he is still investigating what happened and considering all available options.

“At this point, we call for a sincere and genuine apology, acknowledging the harm that has been caused by the outrageousness of the actions and to do good, to repair the damage that has been done to these two young girls,” LaMarr said. .

According to Brown, she showed the video of the incident to an employee near the park exit, but was told there was no supervisor at the park she could talk to.

“My daughter was just sad. She asked mom what did I do? What happened” and I said you didn’t do anything. Some people are just mean,” Brown said.

Sesame Workshop, which licenses the theme park, also released a statement Monday night saying:

“Sesame Workshop is aware of the recent incident at Sesame Place Philadelphia, which we take very seriously. What these children have experienced is unacceptable.”

Sesame Workshop added: “We have been in contact with Sesame Place, our licensed park partner, and they have assured us that they will organize bias training and a thorough review of how they interact with families and guests.”

Brown and LaMaar plan to have a press conference on Wednesday with more details.

Kelly Rowland and others react

The video went viral and sparked outrage, including from Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland, over the differential treatment.

Rowland shared the video posted by the mother to her Instagram Story, writing that the incident drove her crazy.

“So if it was me, this whole parade would have been in flames,” Rowland said in her Instagram story video. “Are you serious? You’re not going to talk to my child? And you saw that baby’s face at the end? The little one with the pink one? She deserves an explanation!”

Online, other artists, activists and social media users expressed their anger over the incident at the theme park.

Raymond Santana, activist and one of five members of the Exonerated Five, reposted a video of the incident to his Instagram alongside Rowland’s comment, writing, “I’m sorry but this park will never get my money… being a #girldad. I definitely took it personal.”
Comedian D. L. Hughley posted on Twitter: “It’s not shocking when someone in costume at #SesamePlace becomes racist! Why do they think they wear balaclavas?? #TeamDl”

CNN’s Brynn Gingras and Linh Tran contributed to this report.

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