Black Family Files $25M Lawsuit Against Sesame Place

A Black father has filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging that his daughter was ignored by costumed characters at Sesame Place.

Sesame Place is under fire yet again. One week after two Black girls were visibly ignored by costumed character Rosita during a parade at the Philadelphia theme park, a Black Baltimorean father, Quinton Burns, has filed a lawsuit against the park’s parent company, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. Burns has alleged that Kennedi Burns (his five-year-old daughter) and other Black guests were ignored by costumed characters during a meet and greet on June 8 at the Philadelphia theme park. Burns also claimed that while Black guests were disregarded, “SeaWorld’s performers readily engaged with numerous similarly situated white customers.”

According to The Baltimore Sun, Burns filed the lawsuit in a Philadelphia federal court for “pervasive and appalling race discrimination.” Filed in in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the lawsuit demands $25 million in damages, while attorney Malcolm Ruff has been hired to represent the Baltimore family. Ruff has asked for SeaWorld to offer transparency on how performers interact with children of all races.

“We stand before you here today simply trying to fight and protect little Black children and their fundamental civil rights,” Ruff said during a press conference on Wednesday (July 27). “Sesame Place said they will look into the lawsuit and “are committed to [delivering] an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience for all our guests.”

Documents in the lawsuit note that “Elmo,” “Ernie,” “Telly Monster” and “Abby Cadabby” did not interact with the Burns family, “ignoring them and all other Black guests in attendance.” Per CNN, all employees at the theme park are named as defendants. Earlier this month, the park went viral after clips showing Black children being ignored and pushed by costumed characters were posted on social media. Sesame Place issued multiple statements, claiming it to be “committed to doing a better job making children and families feel special.”

Jaelani Turner-Williams

Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with bylines at Billboard, MTV News, NYLON, Recording Academy and more. Read her mind on Twitter at @hernameisjae.

Published by
Jaelani Turner-Williams

Recent Posts

Grammy Predictions 2023: Our Guesses at Who’ll Win the Big Four (And Other Categories)

Will Beyoncé win over Adele? Will Steve Lacy have his breakout moment? Will Kendrick have… Read More

February 2, 2023

John Singleton Left Behind a 2Pac Painting From ‘Baby Boy’ Worth $75K

Featured in 2001 John Singleton-directed drama film Baby Boy, a mural painting of the late… Read More

February 2, 2023

‘Fast X,’ ‘The Flash’ and ‘Transformers’ Trailers to Air During Super Bowl

Trailers for forthcoming action films will air during the Super Bowl LVII, including Ant-Man and… Read More

February 2, 2023

After Reaching 75 Billion Streams on Spotify, Drake Proposes That Artists ‘Should Get Bonuses’

Drake, Her Loss artist and recent Apollo Theater headliner, said that artists 'should get bonuses'… Read More

February 2, 2023

Jon Stewart Slams Media For ‘Salivating’ Over Tyre Nichols Footage

Jon Stewart and writer/comedian Kasaun Wilson recently discussed how the death of Tyre Nichols has… Read More

February 2, 2023

Jordan Peele Talks About Why He Didn’t Pursue Live-Action ‘Akira’ Remake

While on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Jordan Peele reflected on his decision not to… Read More

February 2, 2023