Jodi Brown and her attorney told CNN on Tuesday that the Sesame Place character, Rosita, was intentionally racist toward her niece and daughter.
Brown told CNN that the character Rosita was walking down the parade route high-fiving and hugging other children when the character intentionally ignored her daughter and niece.
“Right after the character passed them, there was another little girl next to them who was of a different race and he hugged her. He like, embraced her with his two arms,” Brown said. “At that time I had already stopped recording the video because when he bypassed the children and said no to them I was upset so I stopped the video because I was like ‘what just happened?'”
“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 Rosita performer did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated about the misunderstanding.”
When CNN followed up about what the park meant by “misunderstanding,” Sesame Place Philadelphia sent CNN an “updated statement” that was also posted on Instagram on Monday evening, saying:
“We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience in our park on Saturday; we know that it’s not ok. We are taking actions to do better. We are committed to making this right. 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 Sesame Place has worked to uphold the values of respect, inclusion and belonging. We are committed to doing a better job making children and families feel special, seen and included when they come to our parks.”
B’Ivory LaMarr, who represents the family, said the park’s response is not enough.
In the caption of the video, the mother called the incident “disgusting.”
“And please feel free to repost this. Actually run me my money back.”
LaMarr, emphasized he’s still investigating what happened and looking at all their available options.
“At this point we’re calling for a genuine, authentic, apology, acknowledging the harm that has been caused in outrageousness of the actions and to do right, to make amends with the damage that’s been caused to these two young girls,” LaMarr said.
According to Brown, she showed the video of the incident to an employee near the park’s exit but was told there wasn’t a supervisor at the park she could speak to.
“My daughter was just sad. She asked ‘ mom what did I do? What happened’ and I said you didn’t do anything. Some people are just mean people, ” Brown said.
“Sesame Workshop is aware of the recent incident at Sesame Place Philadelphia, which we take very seriously. What these children experienced is unacceptable.”
Sesame Workshop added, “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.”
Brown and LaMaar are planning to have a news conference Wednesday with more details.
Kelly Rowland and others react
Rowland reshared the video posted by the mother on her Instagram story, writing that the incident made her mad.
“So had that been me, that whole parade would’ve been in flames,” Rowland said in her Instagram story video. “Are you serious? You’re not going to speak to my child? And did you see that baby’s face at the end? The little one with the pink on? She deserves an explanation!”
Online, other entertainers, activists and social media users expressed anger toward the incident at the theme park.