Black family sues Sesame Place for $25 million over racial discrimination after three black girls were ignored by a costumed character at an amusement park. Social media responds.
Have the culture wars gone too far? A black family from Baltimore has filed a lawsuit against a Sesame Street-themed amusement park for $25 million over claims of racial discrimination, alleging multiple costumed characters ignored a 5-year-old Black girl during a meet-and-greet event last month.
The lawsuit comes in the wake of viral video, showing two other Black girls apparently being snubbed by a costumed employee during a parade at the park in Langhorne, outside Philadelphia. Sesame Place apologized in a statement and promised more training for its employees after the video went viral earlier this month.
The video has since been viewed more than 910,000 times on Instagram since one of the parents’ Jodi Brown posted it on her personal page after her 6 year old daughter Skylar Brown, 6, and her niece Nylah Brown, 6, were ignored by a Sesame Place character while children of other races were greeted.
The suit, which seeks class action status, was filed in a federal court in Philadelphia against SeaWorld Parks, the owner of the Sesame Place, for ‘pervasive and appalling race discrimination.’
The lawsuit alleges four employees dressed as Sesame Street characters ignored Quinton Burns, his daughter Kennedi Burns and other Black guests during the meet-and-greet on June 18. The lawsuit says ‘SeaWorld’s performers readily engaged with numerous similarly situated white customers.’
Family Attorney: ‘Justice for the children who were harmed and humiliated’
After the release of the video, celebrities and public figures began speaking out, calling for Sesame Place to address the video.
The theme park issued an apology on Instagram, saying, ‘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.’
The apology was not well received, and more families began coming forward with allegations and videos alleging similar experiences at the park.
During a press conference held Wednesday, one of the family’s attorneys, Malcolm Ruff, called for transparency from SeaWorld and for the company to compensate the Burns family. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Attorney B’Ivory Lamarr representing Jodi and Nylah Brown during Wednesday’s press conference shot down allegations that public appearances are about money and says it is about getting justice for the children who were harmed and humiliated.
Lamarr maintained the actions by the theme park character were intentional, while adding, ‘that racism will not be tolerated in policing, healthcare, schools or at theme parks.’
Response to the suit has led to wide rebuke and cynicism on social media, not discounting the fact that racism and discrimination is very real and palpable in the U.S – while raising the question, where does one draw the line of actual demeaning behavior and actions?
So now people feel the need to sue over not getting a high five from a person in costume. This is ridiculous. It’s not acceptable to use race as a reason for every scenario in which people feel slighted. #sesameplace https://t.co/sOXkn9e60e
— tweeting my fair share (@KTee5) July 28, 2022
Wrote one user: It was always about the money. The family had $ dreams from the moment this non event occurred. More ambulance chasing for anticipated woke guilt settlement.
While another posted: So now people feel the need to sue over not getting a high five from a person in costume. This is ridiculous. It’s not acceptable to use race as a reason for every scenario in which people feel slighted.
Wrote another: I think BLM is a facility that one can start sueing. They have caused created racism all for their own benefit. They and their followers can share equal responsibility for their behavior.
Pondered another user: If this really happened that’s disgusting, but taking a 30 second video without context doesn’t equate to a character being racist & hating black children.
And another: 25 million how about an apology and your money refunded. Your children are still alive and got over it weeks ago.
While another user lamented: How about $1B?