Sesame Place to Hold Bias Training After Costumed Character Allegedly Snubbed Black Children

Sesame Place Alleged Racism (Credit: Twitter/@LeslieMac)

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that runs Sesame Street, has announced it will hold bias training for performers after a costumed character was seen in a viral video allegedly dismissing Black children.

“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 organization said in a statement on Monday, July 18.

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The statement came after a video posted on Twitter showed furry character Rosita hugging and high-fiving parkgoers at Sesame Place Philadelphia, but as two young Black girls waved and held out their arms for hugs, the character shook its head indicating “no,” and kept walking.

“#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,” read the tweet posted by a woman who said her great niece was celebrating her birthday at the venue and some of the children were snubbed.

The video has been viewed more than 8 million times.

Others posted videos showing the character ignoring more Black children while engaging with white families standing nearby.

Sesame Place Philadelphia released a statement on Instagram in response to the video of the two little girls, 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 post said.

Thousands of people responded in the comments section, saying they weren’t buying the excuse. Critics of the park included singer and actress Kelly Rowland, who commented: “Those gorgeous girls will never forget that feeling! THEY ARE KIDS!!!!! You should be ASHAMED of yourselves for this pathetic statement!”

The family of the two girls has retained an attorney to investigate the situation and possibly sue, TMZ reported Tuesday.

“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,” attorney B’Ivory LaMarr told the outlet.