Calling the alleged racial snubbing of two six-year-old girls at the Sesame Place Philadelphia theme park “egregious and disturbing,” Reverend Jesse Jackson and Bishop Tavis Grant, national field director for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, are calling for accountability for the mascot’s traumatizing behavior.
Jackson and Grant met with Jodi Brown, the mother of Nyla Brown, 6, and her family when they were in Houston, Texas attending a voter registration event with Rapper Trae the Truth earlier this week.
Jackson and Grant expressed deep concern that Brown’s daughter and her niece, Skylar, also 6, are still traumatized over the obvious snubbing by the mascot Rosita.
“The issue is not the character inside the mascot,” Grant told the Chicago Crusader. “It’s the character inside of the company.”
Grant said Sesame Place is owned by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and that they’ve had several issues as it relates to animal cruelty and the care of staff and patrons.
“This latest incident was so brazen and so disturbing that an apology creates a tone deafness in terms of this company’s understanding of what is at stake.
“It is a bit more than training and cultural sensitivity,” Grant said. “It is the character of this company, the chairman, board members and the CEO must be held accountable for this incident.”
Grant said what must be done is that a “systematic internal/external change is necessary to eradicate this. You do not eradicate prejudice with an apology. You eradicate it with the appropriateness of a policy and procedure that ensures that no one has to endure what these two children and their family have gone through.”
Jodi Brown took the girls, who wore colorful Cookie Monster and Abby Cadabby backpacks, to the Sesame Place amusement park in Philadelphia.
The mother feels the mascot’s hugging and waving at white children then snubbing her daughter and niece was racist.
But in a statement issued last Sunday, theme park officials called the incident a ‘misunderstanding,’ and claimed Rosita did not see the girls because her vision was thwarted due to her costume’s mask.
“Our brand, our park and our employees stand for inclusivity and equality in all forms,” Park officials said in a statement. “That is what Sesame Place is all about and we do not tolerate any behaviors in our parks that are contrary to that commitment.”
Park officials said Rosita, who was not identified, “did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated about the misunderstanding.”
Park officials apologized to the Brown family. However, after the mother posted the nine-second video on Instagram, Park officials changed their tune. Officials are now saying their employees will undergo sensitivity training, but area activists want the mascot identified and fired and have threatened to shut down the park.
The attorney for the little girls, B’Ivory Lamarr, turned thumbs down on Sesame Place officials claiming that Rosita’s costume prevented her from seeing the little girls. He also rejected their apology, rather he is demanding the firing of Rosita. Lamarr claims to have at least 30 other Blacks who said they suffered similar treatment at the Sesame Street theme park.