Sesame Place commits to bias training after viral video of character rebuffing Black girls
The video shows two young Black girls appearing to be snubbed by a Rosita character at Sesame Place in Philadelphia.
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind “Sesame Street,” has pledged to conduct bias training in the wake of a viral video in which two young Black girls appear to be rebuffed by a character at Sesame Place in Philadelphia.
The video, captured this weekend, was shared on Twitter by digital strategist Leslie Mac whose daughter, Paige, was celebrating her 4th birthday. In the clip, the toddler and another little girl are standing, their extended arms raised toward a park worker dressed as Rosita, the bilingual “Sesame Street” character. The performer appears to wave off Paige and her friend, shaking her head and turning away from them, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“This is how #SesamePlace treated these beautiful Black children,” Mac captioned the post, which has garnered millions of views. The video has garnered extensive comments, including several by the Hollywood elite.
“Every Black woman was once a little Black girl who made this face when the way things are for us in America first broke her heart,” tweeted actress Yvette Nicole Brown, sharing a photo of one of the girls.
Sesame Workshop shared on Twitter Monday that it had “been in contact with Sesame Place, our licensed park partner, and they have assured us that they will conduct bias training and a thorough review of the ways in which they engage with families and guests.”
In their initial response on Instagram, Sesame Place said it is possible that the performer’s vision was obscured by the costume. They also alleged that they “spoke to the family and extended our apologies and invited them back for a special meet-and-greet opportunity with our characters.”
However, the statement was “the first & only time the family heard about this offer & Sesame Place has cut off email communications,” Mac tweeted. “The entire statement is a lie.”
In a follow-up, Sesame Workshop offered their own statement, writing that Sesame Place has “assured” them “that they will conduct bias training and a thorough review of the ways in which they engage with families and guests.”
Sesame Place also shared a new apology, writing: “We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience in our park on Saturday; we know that it’s not ok. 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,” park officials added, “Sesame Place has worked to uphold the values of respect, inclusion, and belonging. We are committed to doing a better job making children and their families feel special, seen, and included when they come to our parks.”
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