Sesame Place Racism Accusation as Black Mother Says Rosita Ignored Her KidsAugust 2, 2022
A mother of two called out Sesame Place Philadelphia after claiming that one of the theme park’s employees, dressed as Sesame Street character Rosita, shunned her Black daughters. The park denied accusations of racism.
A video shared by the woman, whose name on social media is Jodi, shows her two daughters excitedly watching characters parade through the theme park in Philadelphia. When the two girls see the character of Rosita walking by, they reach out for a hug or a high-five, like most other children around them.
But while Rosita can be seen high-fiving several people before getting to the two girls, the character then waves “no” in the direction of the two children and walks away without engaging with them.
The mother shared the footage of the incident on her Instagram profile, saying the incident has made her “hot/”
“We were on our way out of sesame place and the kids wanted to stop to see the characters,” she wrote on Instagram on Sunday.
“THIS DISGUSTING person blatantly told our kids NO then proceeded to hug the little white girl next to us! Then when I went to complain about it, they looking at me like I’m crazy.”
The woman said she enquired upon the identity of the staff member inside the Rosita costume, asking to meet with a manager, but she was told they did not know who the employee in the character’s costume was.
In her Instagram post, Jodi pledged to “never step foot” in Sesame Place Philadelphia again. People on social media reacted with the same outrage as the mother, accusing the employee in the Rosita costume of racism.
Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland posted a video on her Instagram stories saying the incident made her mad.
“Okay so had that been me, that whole parade would have been in flames,” she said. “Like, are you serious? You’re not going to speak to my child? And did you see that baby’s face at the end? The little one with the pink on? She deserves an explanation.”
Sesame Place Philadelphia officially responded to Jodi’s claims with a statement on Monday that defended the behavior of its employee, saying Rosita’s shunning of the two girls was not racially motivated.
“The costumes our performers wear sometimes make it difficult to see at lower levels and sometimes our performers miss hug requests from guests,” the theme park said.
“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.”
Sesame Place claims that “the Rosita performer did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated about the misunderstanding.”
The park also said it has apologized to the family and invited them back for “a special meet-and-greet opportunity with our characters.”
The park’s response failed to appease everyone, with some social media users claiming the video shows that the performer did clearly see the girls. New promotional posts on Twitter from the theme park, unrelated to the incident, still suffered from the impact of Jodi’s claims, with users calling for a boycott of Sesame Place.
“We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience in our park on Saturday; we know that it’s not ok. We are taking actions to do better. We are committed to making this right,” Sesame Place Philadelphia told Newsweek.
“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.”
Update, 7/19/2022 5:47 a.m. EDT: This article has been updated to include a response by Sesame Place Philadelphia.