Sesame Place CEO doesn’t meet with Black family snubbed by Rosita mascot, attorney says

A Black family that was apparently snubbed by a mascot at Sesame Place in July was once again snubbed, according to their attorney, this time by the CEO of the park’s parent company, who pledged last month to hear them out.

On Tuesday, the Brown family was due to meet with Marc Swanson, CEO of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, which owns and operates Sesame Place in Bucks County, but was instead met by attorneys and corporate representatives in New York, according to a statement from B’Ivory Lamarr, the family’s attorney.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment owns and operates the park through a license with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit responsible for the TV show Sesame Street.

Spokespeople for SeaWorld and Sesame Place did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

Last month, Swanson met with the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. and Lamarr, who is representing the family of Jodi Brown, the woman who posted the now-viral video of an employee dressed as the turquoise Muppet Rosita appearing to refuse to high-five two young Black girls during a parade at the park.

One of the girls is Brown’s daughter and the other is her niece; both are 6 years old.

When Jackson and Lamarr met with Swanson and company board members, the Brown family was not allowed up to the suite, Lamarr said, and had to wait in a building lobby for hours. Swanson said he was “willing to fly anywhere to meet with the Brown family,” according to the statement, but did not speak with them last month and was a no-show Tuesday.

“While he and his corporate executives sat in comfort in the skyline suite, the Brown family stood in the lobby for hours awaiting word as to whether or not they would be heard,” Lamarr said in the statement.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Brown family voiced concerns to lawyers and representatives and then were offered sandwiches and cookies before leaving, according to the statement.

There have been no updates on the employment status of the employee who, while dressed as the Sesame Street character Rosita, apparently refused to high-five the two girls, Lamarr said, and the family has been invited to return to the park, despite saying it would cause the children to relive the trauma endured in July.

Since Brown’s video went viral, backlash against Sesame Place and SeaWorld has been swift and steady.

Many people called for a boycott of the venue and the other parks the company operates, along with calling for the firing of the employee. At least one protest was held at the park in July.

In late July, another family sued Sesame Place and its parent company for more than $25 million, accusing them of allowing costumed characters to racially discriminate against Black children. The complaint alleges that Sesame Place characters ignored a 5-year-old Black girl during a “meet and greet” event in June.

Since the incident with the Brown family, the park has acknowledged that the incident was “unacceptable,” offered profuse and resounding apologies, and announced plans for diversity training.

https://www.inquirer.com/news/pennsylvania/sesame-place-ceo-meeting-brown-family-rosita-20220902.html

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