Have you ever been rejected? If so, my condolences concerning your $20+ million worth of pain. According to a lawsuit, that could be the amount of wrong done to you and similarly-snubbed others.
Earlier this month at Pennsylvania’s Sesame Place theme park, two young cousins tried to high-five a costumed character. The parading life-sized puppet signaled “no” and sashayed away.
A video went viral:
This is absolutely HEARTBREAKING! 💔 These two young Queens did NOT deserve to be blatantly singled out and ignored by this #SesameStreet character! @SesamePlace MUST address their staff’s disgusting behavior! 🎥: IG/__jodiii__ pic.twitter.com/07shnhEGvM
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) July 18, 2022
The episode caused quite the stir, even on this very site. RedState’s Bonchie announced, “I regret to inform you that weird green-looking mascots named Rosita from Sesame Street are now the face of racism in America.” Our colleague Jeff Charles charged, “Sesame Street is a white supremacist production and should be shut down immediately.”
Bonchie bestowed context for the calamitous clip:
A statement from Sesame Street claims the mascot didn’t see the two black children. … According to people on the scene, Rosita wasn’t waving off the first white woman or the two black children. Rather, they were motioning repeatedly to a person behind the crowd who was trying to get the mascot to hold a baby. That would make sense given safety concerns.
Nonetheless, racism was alleged.
Go ahead and provide proof of your assertion. pic.twitter.com/QPYMlKOXTV
— Bonchie (@bonchieredstate) July 19, 2022
Sesame Workshop worked up a curious response. Following initial insistence of a misunderstanding, it waved the white flag of repentant remarks:
We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience in our park on Saturday; we know that it’s not okay. We are taking actions to do better. We are committed to making this right.
The company pledged to put its workers through “bias training.”
— Sesame Workshop (@SesameWorkshop) July 18, 2022
On June 19th, Jeff Charles observed that the girls’ family had retained an attorney. Jeff joked that Sesame Place “should have to donate at least $2 million to Black Lives Matter each year for a decade.”
It appears a new family is trying to outdo his $20 million prescription — by five million dollars.
From The Associated Press:
A Baltimore family is suing 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 a video, shared widely on social media, showing two other Black girls apparently being snubbed…
The suit — filed in federal court against Sesame Place owner SeaWorld Parks — calls to “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.”
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.
The suit is of the class action kind; multiple families have come forward with similar claims.
As for Jodi Brown — mother to one of the girls in the initial video — she’s rejected Sesame Place’s public apology.
And on Wednesday, the Daily Mail noted Congress’s involvement:
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus reportedly asked for a meeting with leadership at a Sesame Street theme park after video showing a costumed character waving off two six-year-old black girls during a parade went viral.
Jodi has called for the pernicious employee in the Rosita suit to be sacked.
It’s a stunning amount of blowback from a headshake and a forefinger’s wag. But these are the days of vital visibility, when microaggressions amount to “death by a thousand cuts.” Sesame Place had better construct their suits with more eye-holes — so everyone can sufficiently feel seen.
In the meantime, maybe $25 million will serve as a salve for those who’ve been hurt.
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