Jodi Brown, who uploaded the video, and her 6-year-old niece were joined by attorney B’Ivory LaMarr for a press conference outside Sesame Workshop in New York on Wednesday.
LaMarr said they didn’t want to sue the company and it wasn’t about the money; he said it was about getting it right – and that hasn’t happened yet.
“You’ve been telling these kids for years ‘come and play, it’s alright, friendly neighbors there, that’s where we meet, can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street? And once these kids figure out how to get to Sesame Street…they reach out with open arms to these friendly neighbors, for what? To be fired? To be rejected? And leave your lower park,” LaMarr said.
The nine-second video, posted to Instagram on Saturday by Brown, the other girl’s mother, showed Rosita’s character slapping a white child and woman, then gesturing “no” and shaking. walk away from the two girls who had their arms outstretched for a hug and a high-five during the parade at Sesame Place in Langhorne, outside of Philadelphia.
LaMarr said he has more documentation on the incident and may release it depending on Sesame Place’s further actions.
“We have information that we have – we are going to give this company they had less than 12 hours to provide information with a very sincere and genuine apology – or we are going to release evidence showing exactly what happened in in addition to the video you’ve already seen,” LaMarr said.
LaMarr said the evidence refers to family comments that after passing the two girls, Rosita’s character continued to hug a white child.
In an early statement Sunday, Sesame Place said the park and its employees stand for “inclusion and equality in all forms.” The statement also noted that performers sometimes miss hug requests because the costumes they wear make it difficult to see at lower levels.
“Rosita’s interpreter did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated by the misunderstanding,” the statement read.
However, many people expressed their outrage online and some called for a boycott of the amusement park.
The park released a second statement on Monday, again apologizing and promising it was “taking steps to do better.” Among these efforts would be inclusiveness training for employees.
The family said they showed the video at Sesame Place right after it happened, saying the character didn’t behave that way towards the white kids there.
“This mother tried to solve this problem immediately. It was not about publicity. It was not about money. She immediately approached the management of the park. She showed them the same video that millions of people across this country and the world have seen. Sesame Place had the opportunity to see this video at that time. They chose to reject it. They chose to reject this family,” a said LaMarr.
Brown said employees told him there was no supervisor available at the park at the time.
The company also invited the family back to the park, promising a better experience, but their lawyer said they weren’t ready to accept that.
“I just think the apology was insincere and I believe the apology is now being offered because it caused so much uproar,” Brown said. “I want them to be able to do the right thing given that me, my niece and my daughter have all suffered from embarrassment (and) discriminatory behavior.”
LaMarr said they wanted the person in Rosita’s costume fired. He also wants the park to pay for the costs of mental care the children will need as a result of the incident.
The family and attorney said Brown’s daughter, who was not at the press conference, was at home in isolation.
“We reject any notion that the artist’s actions last Saturday were anything but intentional,” LaMarr said. “I know our black girls are magical, but I didn’t know they were invisible. We’re tired of your excuses. We’re tired of the excuses. We won’t tolerate racism in this country.”
LaMarr said a major issue is that this was not an isolated incident and that he has been contacted by at least two dozen additional families alleging they experienced racism at Sesame Place.
He said those allegations were being investigated.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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