More specifically, is the Sesame Street character Rosita racially biased? There is an odd story about Sesame Place Philadelphia and an employee dressed as Rosita ignoring two little Black girls when they extended their hands to receive a high-five from her during the parade of characters. To make matters worse, one of those little girls was celebrating her fourth birthday.
Rosita is the turquoise muppet who is fluent in both English and Spanish, the first regular bilingual Muppet on the show. Rosita comes from Mexico and likes to play the guitar. Kids love the character. The question is why did Rosita walk by the two little girls and ignore them when she had just high-fived an older white girl standing close to the little girls? The mother was filming it and caught their disappointed looks on video. She posted it on Instagram and it went viral, receiving hundreds of thousands of views right away.
I’m going to keep posting this, because this had me hot. We were on our way out of sesame place and the kids wanted to stop to see the characters. 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. I asked the lady who the character was and I wanted to see a supervisor and she told me SHE DIDNT KNOW !! I will never step foot in @sesameplace ever again ! And please feel free to repost this. Actually run me my money back 😡🤬so mad I stopped the video but it got me so mad when he blatantly told them no
It’s easy to relate to the mom’s anger. No one wants their child to be snubbed by a beloved character in that situation. Those little girls are adorable. I’ve watched the video several times and it is difficult to figure out why it happened. I don’t have an answer, other than it was an intentional move by the employee. Perhaps the costume gets in the way of seeing some smaller kids but that doesn’t make sense. The park would be filled with little kids and costumes have to accommodate interaction with them.
She reposted the video on Twitter and it has over 8.5 million views.
#BabyPaige & her cute lil friends went to @SesamePlace this weekend to celebrate Paige’s 4th birthday & this is how #SesamePlace treated these beautiful Black children. I’m HOT. pic.twitter.com/wATjpRzUF1
— Leslie Mac (@LeslieMac) July 17, 2022
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street, responded. Sesame Place is a licensed park partner. There is additional training in the future for park employees.
“We have 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,” they wrote in the statement.
“As a global nonprofit educational organization with a mission to help children grow smarter, stronger and kinder, Sesame Workshop has always stood for respect, inclusion and belonging and is committed to providing the highest quality engaging experiences for all children and families,” the statement went on.
Moments after the nonprofit shared its statement, Sesame Place Philadelphia shared a new statement that read, “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,” it continued.
This comes after Sesame Place Philadelphia’s initial statement in defense, claiming the incident was not racially motivated.
“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 original response read.
“The Rosita performer did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated about the misunderstanding,” it continued.
— Sesame Place Philadelphia (@SesamePlace) July 18, 2022
The mom is a digital strategist and she isn’t letting it go. Representatives for the park say they reached out to the mom and she denies that.
THEY HAVE NOT INVITED THE KIDS BACK FOR ANYTHING. This statement is the first & only time the family heard about this offer & Sesame Place has cut off email communications. The entire statement is a lie. https://t.co/RrtJ4mJbwV
— Leslie Mac (@LeslieMac) July 18, 2022
She’s gotten an attorney and is looking into suing the park.
B’Ivory LaMarr, the attorney representing the family, told TMZ they want to interview other people who were in attendance and evaluate other Rosita videos that have been appearing online showing similar situations.
“While we hate to rush to judgment to consider ‘race’ as the motivating factor to explain the performer’s actions, such actions both before and after the young girl’s request only lead to one conclusion,” LaMarr said.
There are calls for a boycott of the park now. Sesame Place Philadelphia has the apology as a pinned tweet on their Twitter account. Other Black families are posting their own videos of incidents like this happening to them.
What a mess. As I said, it’s hard to explain that this isn’t anything other than deliberate bias. I hate to say that since everyone is so quick to shout racism over everything these days but what other explanation is there? The employee interacted with the people next to the little girls and the mother said that the employee also high-fived White people on the other side of her but that doesn’t show up in the video. Whatever happens, it’s a shame that a four year old’s birthday celebration was ruined by something that could have been avoided.
Some Hollywood celebs have weighed in, because, of course they have.
”The incident caught the attention of multiple Hollywood figures. “Those gorgeous girls will never forget that feeling!” Kelly Rowland wrote in a reply on Sesame Place’s Instagram account, while Audra McDonald tweeted, “This is absolutely disgusting.”
Though I have complete DISDAIN for the way the performer in that #Rosita suit treated those sweet babies, my ire does not extend to @sesamestreet proper. @SesamePlace dropped the ball with hiring AND that gaslighting statement 👎🏾.
But THE #SesameStreet changes lives.
— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) July 18, 2022
This moment at that particular @sesameplace never should’ve happened. And that raggedy statement was woefully inefficient.
But I have faith that @sesamestreet proper will make this right in a way that those babies & that family feels seen and heard.
Again, they get it.
— yvette nicole brown (@YNB) July 18, 2022
It’s a good point that a story about alleged racial bias comes from a Sesame Street partner. The show goes out of its way to be as woke as possible for kids. Inclusion of racially diverse characters has been a standard since its beginning.