Family sues SeaWorld’s Sesame Place Philadelphia over alleged racist interaction


A black family, who say the performers of Sesame Place Philadelphia characters were racially discriminated against, filed a class action lawsuit against the amusement park’s parent, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, on Wednesday before federal court in Pennsylvania.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Quinton Burns and her child says that while visiting Sesame Place in June, employees dressed as Sesame Street characters only interacted with white visitors during a “Meet and Greet” event. », refusing to interact with black visitors.

Costumed character performers dressed as Sesame Street characters “Elmo”, “Ernie”, “Telly Monster” and “Abby Cadabby” refused to engage with the Burns family, “ignoring them and any other black guests in attendance “, says the lawsuit. .

The employees are named defendants in the lawsuit, which alleges that company management was previously aware that the four performers were racially biased. “SeaWorld actually knew that John Does 1-4 held personal beliefs of racial bias against black people and that John Does 1-4 had the propensity to discriminate against black people based on their race or color,” the filing said.

Attorney B'Ivory Lamarr stands with community activists and family members of the two young girls who he says were ignored by a Sesame Place actor dressed as Rosita at Sesame Place in Philadelphia due to their race on July 20, 2022 in New York City.

The lawsuit does not specify the race of the employees.

In a statement, Sesame Place says they will review the lawsuit and are “committed to providing an inclusive, fair and entertaining experience for all of our customers.”

Lawyers involved in the lawsuit held a press conference Wednesday with Burns and her daughter.

“We stand before you here today simply to try to fight and protect little black children and their basic civil rights,” attorney Malcolm Ruff said.

Although the court filing does not describe an interaction in detail, the lawsuit follows a public apology from amusement park officials to another black family after a video went viral on social media showing two black children seemingly snubbed by the “Rosita” character.

This family was unaware of the class action lawsuit before it was filed, a family representative told CNN.

In addition to monetary demands, the lawsuit asks the court to compel defendants to issue formal apologies to Black Americans, conduct psychological screenings to avoid hiring potential racist employees, and provide existing employees with mandatory training in Cultural Sensitivity and Employee Training Courses” on the history of anti-Black discrimination in America provided by a mutually agreed-upon nationally recognized expert in the field of African and Black history and culture.

The class action seeks to rectify what he says was disparate treatment suffered by black patrons of the park who have been there since late July 2018, according to the court filing.

“This class action lawsuit demonstrates that SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment LLC, engage in pervasive and appalling racial discrimination against children in the operation of Sesame Place Philadelphia,” the complaint states.

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