Jul 28, 2022 - Economy

Black family sues Sesame Place over alleged discrimination

Photo of Rosita from Sesame Street, a green furry character, dancing in a parade

Sesame Place character Rosita performs during a Thanksgiving Day parade in Philadelphia. Photo: fox5dc.com

A Baltimore family has filed a class-action lawsuit that cites "pervasive and appalling race discrimination" at a Sesame Street-themed amusement park, related to costumed employees' alleged pattern of snubbing Black children.

Why it matters: The lawsuit comes in the aftermath of a viral video showing a costumed employee apparently gesturing "no" and ignoring two other Black girls at a Sesame Place parade despite high-fiving a white child and woman.

  • The video spurred many other posts showing park employees' alleged refusal to engage with Black children, the Bucks County Courier Times reports.

Details: The suit was filed against SeaWorld Parks, which owns the Philadelphia-based Sesame Place, and claims four character performers dressed as Sesame Street characters ignored Quinton Burns, his daughter and other Black people during a June meet-and-greet event.

  • "SeaWorld's performers readily engaged with numerous similarly situated white customers," states the complaint, filed Wednesday.
  • Filing the case as a class-action suit allows other aggrieved Black families to join and similarly pursue compensation for damages.
  • The Burns family seeks $25 million in compensation as well as accountability from SeaWorld in the form of policy reviews and changes.

What they're saying: "We will review the lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Burns," Sesame Place said in a statement.

  • "We look forward to addressing that claim through the established legal process. We are committed to deliver an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience for all our guests."

Worth noting: After the initial video led to outrage, Sesame Place apologized and said the company is "taking action to do better," including implementing inclusivity training for employees, per AP. Some have said it doesn't go far enough.

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to reflect that Sesame Place apologized after the initial video, not Sesame Street.

Go deeper