Weeks after multiple videos of performers in character costumes at Sesame Place went viral for seemingly discriminating against Black children in the park, new footage has emerged showcasing similar behavior toward a child of color at a different kids-targeted franchise. The mother of the young girl wants answers after what she believes was a deliberate slight to her daughter based on race.
On Saturday, July 30, one African-American mother took her toddler to the Chuck E. Cheese theme restaurant located at 1639 Rt. 23 South. Wayne, New Jersey, for another child’s birthday party. While there, she alleges, the actor dressed as the franchise mouse mascot ignored her Black child but gave high-fives to white children.
The mom videotaped the incident and posted it on her social media.
The caption of her tweet read, “On July 30 at Chuck E Cheese in Wayne, NJ, my 2yo was racially discriminated against. As you can see, he gives all of the yt kids hi-5s & PURPOSELY ignored my black baby. When confronted, he ignored me as well. The manager, Angie Valasquez, made excuses for him.”
In the video, her daughter can be seen excitedly jumping up and down as the mouse walks up. He pivots to the white children on the stage, as the young princess dressed in a pink tutu and beads continues to motion for acknowledgment. Two other Chuck E. Cheese workers, both appearing to be white women, are present as the little girl motions to her mom to look at the adult-size rodent.
Despite looking down in the direction of the girl, the manager allegedly told the mother that the mascot could not see her child.
“Saying she’s ‘sorry I feel that way but he didn’t see her, even after showing her the PROOF in the video. Please make this go viral like y’all did with that ‘co-wife’ tweet! This is getting out of hand!!!” she later tweeted.
Earlier in the summer, Sesame Workshop issued multiple apologies to Jodi Brown and her 6-year-old daughter and niece who seemed to be looked over by characters at Sesame Place walking during a parade at the park in Langhorne, outside Philadelphia, on Saturday, July 16. In that video, two little girls seek high-fives from the life-sized Rosita but are ignored while other white children get the coveted attention.
Sparks of outrage from the community moved the company to take action, after first denying any racial discrimination had taken place. Eventually, the company promised to conduct bias training for employees interfacing with the children at the amusement parks using the brand’s character licenses.
Now, the family has secured civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and B’Ivory LaMar, who says an apology is not enough. While a claim has not been filed, the two lawyers have left the door open for that option in the future.
An apology was also not enough for one Baltimore family. After their 5-year-old was ignored at a meet-and-greet at the Bucks County amusement park, they filed a $25 million federal lawsuit against SeaWorld Parks, the owner of the Sesame Place, for “pervasive and appalling race discrimination.”
Filed by the family’s attorney Malcolm Ruff in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the lawsuit states four of the park’s employees costumed as Sesame Street characters snubbed Quinton Burns, his daughter Kennedi Burns and other Black guests during a June 18th meet-and-greet.
The complaint says, “SeaWorld’s performers readily engaged with numerous similarly situated white customers.”
The father said, “I am hurt, devastated, me and my wife, just looking at her face. It makes me want to cry every time I see it.”
Ruff added, “Kennedi was forced to experience racism at the age of five. This is unacceptable and we will not stand by and allow this to continue.”
In all three incidents, the actors involved said they were unable to see the children because of the design of the costumes.