Sesame Place, a children’s amusement park in Philadelphia, issued a public apology and explanation Sunday after video surfaced of a costumed performer ignoring two Black children – a video that prompted backlash, suggesting the shunning was racially motivated.
A parent with the username __jodiii__ on Instagram posted a video with her two daughters that showed the Sesame Street character Rosita walk towards and visibly dismiss the girls, leading to their confusion and sadness. Messages made by USA TODAY to the individual were not immediately returned.
The Saturday post read: “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.”
Further backlash ensued when singer Kelly Rowland chimed in with her frustration. The Destiny’s Child member posted on her Instagram stories: “Okay so had that been me, that whole parade would have been in flames. 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.”
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In the public statement, Sesame Place said the incident was a misunderstanding and that staff had been in contact with the family to offer an exclusive meet-and-greet with all the characters at the theme park.
“Our brand, our park and our employees sand for inclusivity and equality in all forms,” the statement from Sesame Place read on Instagram. “We do not tolerate any behavior in our parks that is contrary to that commitment.
“Regarding the incident yesterday. …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 Rosita performer did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated about the misunderstanding.”