(The Hill) — The Congressional Black Caucus is requesting to meet with the head of the “Sesame Street”-themed amusement park, Sesame Place, after a video that showed a costumed character ignoring two young Black girls went viral.
“Sesame Street is one of the nation’s highest-rated TV shows that, at one time, more than 95 percent of all American Preschoolers watched,” the caucus said in a release Saturday. “So, naturally, Sesame Place should be where all children can go to have fun and celebrate. Sadly, that has not been the case.”
The mother of the two girls posted the video on Instagram earlier this week, showing the character “Rosita” giving high-fives as they walk in a parade but appearing to wave off the two girls.
The mother wrote that the character then hugged a white girl immediately thereafter. The video has received more than 880,000 views as of Saturday afternoon.
The caucus, led by its chairwoman, Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), said it wants to meet with Park President and General Manager Cathy Valeriano to discuss changes, plans of action and training that the park plans to implement. The statement recognizes that Sesame Place has issued a formal apology but states that the caucus is requesting a meeting given the “gravity of the situation and lack of responsibility at all levels.”
The caucus said that it represents 80 million Americans overall and 17 million Black Americans, and “Sesame Street” plays an “integral” role for many of the children its members represent.
“The show reaches young children in all demographics, with a particular impact on economically disadvantaged children, and families of color should know they will be welcomed at any institution that carries the Sesame Street name,” the statement reads.
Sesame Place released another statement on Saturday, apologizing again to the family involved and promising to take action “to deliver a more equitable and inclusive experience.” Sesame Place’s statement reads as follows.
“We sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize to the Brown family for what they experienced. To be very clear, what the two young girls experienced, what the family experienced, is unacceptable. It happened in our park, with our team, and we own that. It is our responsibility to make this better for the children and the family and to be better for all families.
We have been in contact with the family since Sunday morning and have spoken with their lawyers as recently as today. We have offered to meet the family and their attorneys in person to personally deliver an apology and an acknowledgement that we are holding ourselves accountable for what happened. We want to listen to them to understand how the experience impacted their family and to understand what we can do better for them and all guests who visit our parks. We are committed to learning all we can from this situation to make meaningful change. We want every child who comes to our park to feel included, seen and inspired.
We are taking action and are reviewing our practices to identify necessary changes, both in the immediate and long-term. We are instituting mandatory training for all our employees so that we can better recognize, understand, and deliver an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience for all our guests. We have engaged with nationally recognized experts in this area.
We take this extremely seriously. We are heartbroken by what these young girls and this family experienced in our park. It is antithetical to our values, principles, and purpose. We are committed to working tirelessly and intentionally to make this situation better. We will do the necessary work for the long haul — not just in the public eye, but also behind the scenes and within ourselves.”