Sesame Workshop is responding after a viral video appeared to show a theme park character at Sesame Place Philadelphia give two young Black girls the cold shoulder over the weekend.
In the video, shared by an outraged mother on Instagram, the woman’s two Black daughters are completely ignored by the Rosita character as they visibly outstretch their arms for a high-five during the parade. One of the girls turns towards her mother with a disappointed expression on her face.
“What these children experienced is unacceptable,” Sesame Workshop said in a statement on Monday. “We have been in contact with Sesame Place, our licensed park partner, and they have assured us that they will conduct bias training and a thorough review of the ways in which they engage with families and guests.”
— Sesame Workshop (@SesameWorkshop) July 18, 2022
Sesame Place Philadelphia followed up with its own statement shortly thereafter. “We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience in our park on Saturday; we know that it’s not ok,” the theme park said. “We will conduct training for our employees so they better understand, recognize and deliver an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience to our guests.”
— Sesame Place Philadelphia (@SesamePlace) July 18, 2022
Kelly Rowland was among many who spoke out about the video.
“THIS DISGUSTING person blatantly told our kids NO then proceeded to hug the little white girl next to us!” the angry mother called out the Philadelphia park online. “Then when I went to complain about it, they looking at me like I’m crazy. I asked the lady who the character was and I wanted to see a supervisor and she told me SHE DIDNT KNOW!!”
Rowland shared the video to her Story, slamming Sesame Place and reacted to the incident in a followup video.
“Had that been me… that whole parade would have been in flames,” she said before questioning the racist behaviour. “Like, are you serious? You’re not going to speak to my child?” Rowland concluded her rant by stating that the little girls deserve an explanation.
Hours later, Sesame Place issued a statement, which many people thought fell short.
“The Rosita performer did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated about the misunderstanding,” the theme park claimed. Apparently the costumes that their performers wear “sometimes make it difficult to see at lower levels” and “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.”
After the mother shared that she’ll never step foot in Sesame Place again and asked that they return her money, the theme park confirmed in their statement that they’d spoken to the family to apologize to them and invite them back for a special meet-and-greet.
However, the apology appears to be more of a defensive statement, in which many feel as though they have not taken responsibility for that happened, calling it “a lie” and saying “that employee needs to be fired.”