Sesame Place to get new DEI training after viral video

by Ezekiel J. Walker
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This week Sesame Place pledged to conduct a comprehensive racial equity assessment of company policies, implement anti-bias trainings for employees and enhance its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) program.

Their announcement comes after July’s viral video showed a costumed Rosita character gesturing “no” and ignoring two Black girls at Philadelphia’s Sesame Place-themed amusement park despite high-fiving a white child and woman.

Their mother wrote on Instagram, “We were on our way out of Sesame Place and the kids wanted to stop to see the characters,” the mom wrote on Instagram. “THIS DISGUSTING person blatantly told our kids NO then proceeded to hug the little white girl next to us!”

The video spurred many other posts showing park employees’ alleged refusal to engage with Black children and led to a class-action lawsuit, according to The Courier Times.

Attorney Malcolm Ruff is joined at the podium by Kennedi Burns, of Baltimore, during a press conference announcing a federal discrimination lawsuit against Sesame Place on July 27, 2022 in Philadelphia. Damon Williams / Bucks County / Courier Times

“We have already begun engaging with employees, guests, civil rights groups as well as community leaders, and instituted some interim measures at the park while the review proceeds,” Cathy Valeriano, president of Sesame Place Philadelphia, said in a statement.

Per Axios, the company has also committed to having all employees participate in an anti-bias training and education program by the end of September. The training will be added to onboarding processes for new employees and become a “regular part of our training and workforce development.”

National civil rights and DEI experts will oversee the new programming, including Debo P. Adegbile, a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and Joseph West, co-chair of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Less than two weeks later, a Black family from Baltimore sued Sesame Place for $25 million over alleged racial discrimination against their young Black son, according to Travel Noire.

“Jaheim just wanted a high five but Big Bird was totally different with him. The bird looked directly at him and refused to put his hand out.

“Jaheim was so sad afterwards, it was heartbreaking to see.”

Kimberly and Jaren Morris say their Black son, Jaheim, 5, was ignored in favor of white children by Big Bird at Sesame Street Land at SeaWorld in Orlando in March. The character is alleged to have not given Jaheim a high-five after doing it for white children.

The child’s father added: “I thought it was just us, but now I’m seeing other people have gone through the same thing and we needed to share our story.”


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