Chuck E. Cheese pegs itself as a place “Where a Kid Can be a Kid,” but the pizzeria-meets-kiddie arcade is facing backlash this week after a worker’s sheer indifference toward a pint-sized patron.
In a heartbreaking video shared online, an employee dressed as Chuck E. is seen doling out hugs to several children. However, when a young Black girl approaches, the employee gazes over her and continues hugging the other children, all of whom appeared to be white.
“MY KIDS WILL NEVER STEP FOOT BACK IN Chuck E Cheese’s,” the child’s father wrote on Instagram, adding the hashtag #racismdoesntcarewhatage. “Please, do me a favor share this and tag anybody with power. She did not deserve that.”
The reported incident unfolded at a Chuck E. Cheese location in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, Louisiana, earlier this week.
In the clip, the girl is seen patiently waiting her turn as the costumed character greets the kids one by one, but it never comes.
“I’ve been expecting you all day Chuck E. Cheese,” she says excitedly with her arms stretched out wide for a hug. She then waves in hopes of getting the character’s attention.
“Really? You don’t see her?!” the father is heard saying after the worker seemingly ignores his daughter. At the end of the clip, the girl is heard sobbing.
The video sparked a torrent of angry reactions online, with many critics calling for a boycott and that the employee to be fired.
“Wooooow, that’s f—-d up,” one user wrote.
“I’m so sorry your baby girl had to have that experience,” another chimed in. “I pray it’s a memory she doesn’t keep!”
One woman said she didn’t understand ” how could someone not hug that little princess 👸 smh boycott chuckie cheese!”
Others said the snub wasn’t race-related at all, arguing that it’s company policy for the children to initiate contact, rather than the Chuck E. Cheese employee.
“It’s not about racism at all!!” one person wrote. “They’re not allowed to initiate the hugs because of lawsuits. That’s why the kids run to them. There are a lot of parents that don’t like their kids being touched.”
“So you all are telling me y’all mad @ a stranger didn’t walk up and start hugging your kid? Without your kid willingly going to them???” someone else opined.
Atlanta Black Star reached out the father and Chuck E. Cheese for comment. Neither has returned our requests.