'We won't accept that': Family seen in viral Sesame Place video accuses park of discrimination
NEW YORK - A family accusing Sesame Place of discrimination spoke publicly at a press conference in New York and called for the firing of the employee seen in the viral video with the two girls.
Jodi Brown posted a video over the weekend showing her daughter Skylar Brown, 6, and her niece Nylah Brown, 6, being ignored by a Sesame Place character while children of other races were greeted.
The video has since been viewed more than 750,000 times on Instagram since Brown posted it on her personal page.
After the release of the video, celebrities and public figures began speaking out, calling for Sesame Place to address the video.
The theme park issued an apology on Instagram, saying, "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 apology was not well received and more families began coming forward with allegations and videos alleging similar experiences at the park.
In a second apology, the theme park said it would conduct training for employees to deliver a more "inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience" to guests.
On Wednesday, Jodi and Nylah Brown were present at a press conference with their attorney B'Ivory Lamarr and activist Tamika Mallory of Until Freedom.
Lamarr said numerous families contacted his office and the office of Ben Crump with videos and details of similar discriminatory experiences at Sesame Place.
He shut down allegations that public appearances are about money and says it is about getting justice for the children who were harmed and humiliated.
"Today is about our future and if we truly and genuinely believe that the children are our future we must continue to protect them at all costs," Lamarr said.
He went on to say that it should not have taken a viral video for the theme park to address harm.
- Sesame Place facing backlash after woman posts video of 2 girls being ignored by theme park character
- Sesame Place facing discrimination complaints after more videos of children being ignored come to light
- 'Hollow apologies': Sesame Place must take action after 'traumatic' character snubs, social work expert says
"We've come to learn that what took place Saturday is not an anomaly, but what we've seen is business as usual to deny and defend and delay accountability," he said. "An incident like this should not have to go viral for the harms to be properly addressed by corporations in this country."
Lamarr says the actions by the theme park character were intentional and that racism will not be tolerated in policing, healthcare, schools or at theme parks.
Mallory began her statements by reading a Smithsonian Magazine article about the history of Sesame Street and its purpose of creating positive images for Black children.
"We are not here today because we are just upset about something that happened at a park," Mallory said. "We are here because the history of what this park is supposed to represent has been denigrated."
She said discrimination must be rooted out and her organization Until Freedom has issued a warning to Black families to be careful about supporting organizations that mistreat the Black community.
"Our children will not be disrespected," she said. "We will not leave our children unaddressed and unprotected, and therefore we are here today because we want to send a notice not just to Sesame Place but to all of the theme parks across this country that if you are found to be participating in discriminatory behavior against our people, we will drag your name through the mud."
Lamarr and Mallory also called for the firing of the employee involved in the now-viral incident, alleging the company's released statements were not enough.
The attorney says they do not want to file a formal lawsuit against the theme park because they do not want to have the two girls go through litigation.
When asked by FOX 29's Jeff Cole what could be done to make it right, Lamarr announced a list of demands, including the firing of the employee and a formal apology.
Lamarr said his office is prepared to release evidence that directly contradicts Sesame Place's claim that the theme park character said no to another individual and not the two girls, but they are giving the park another chance to rectify the issue before it is released.
He confirmed that the park did reach out to his office but said they were not able to find a time to speak.
According to Jodi Brown, she tried to speak to park management as soon as the incident took place, but was told a supervisor was not available to speak with her.
Lamarr said the park has since reached out, asking her family to return to the park.
"Sesame Place had an opportunity to see that video at that time. They chose to reject it. They chose to dismiss this family," Lamarr said. "So wanting to invite the family back now, no. We won't accept that."