Sesame Street has been a beloved children’s program for decades. It first debuted in the ‘60s and is still making new episodes to this day. The show has inspired a series of toys, books, merchandise, and even themed parks. But now one of those parks is facing a huge lawsuit for being less than friendly to kids.
According to CNN, a Black family has filed a $25 million class action lawsuit after they claimed a character performer at Sesame Place Philadelphia. They’re suing Sesame Place’s parent company, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
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In court documents, Quinton Burns claims that the characters refused to interact with his three children at a meet-and-greet. He says the performers were only paying attention to white children.
Burns claims it wasn’t only his family being ignored. He says other Black visitors were also overlooked.
The character performed involved in the snub are named as defendants in the lawsuit. They had been dressed up as Elmo, Ernie, Telly Monster, and Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street.
The lawsuit claims that SeaWorld had previous knowledge the four performers had racial biases, but still allowed them to interact with guests.
Sesame Place issued a brief statement saying they’re investigating the incident and are committed to providing an “inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience.”
Burns gave a press conference alongside his lawyer, Malcolm Ruff, who said the lawsuit is imperative in order to” fight and protect little Black children and their fundamental civil rights.”
In addition to a million-dollar win, Burns is also requesting the SeaWorld publicly apologize to Black Americans and take concrete steps to reduce racial bias amongst its staff.
The lawsuit comes mere weeks after Sesame Place was criticized online over a similar incident.
Sharing on Instagram, a mother with two Black daughters posted a clip showing the character Rosita refusing to interact with her children, despite just meeting other kids right before. The character can be seen shaking its head “no” at her kids.
“We were on our way out of Sesame Place and the kids wanted to stop to see the characters,” she captioned the clip, which quickly went viral. “THIS DISGUSTING person blatantly told our kids NO then proceeded to hug the little white girl next to us!”
Sesame Place issued a statement about the video insinuating it was a misunderstanding. The theme park said the costumes can “sometimes make it difficult to see at lower levels,” making “performers miss hug requests from guests.”
The park also said the character wasn’t shaking their head “no” at the woman’s kids, but at all guests requesting a hug.
The mother has since called Sesame Place’s response “disrespectful and distasteful.” However, she’s not involved with the new lawsuit. The lawsuit was reportedly filed without knowledge of the previous incident.
Sources: CNN, The Black Walls Times,
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