A Colorado couple is speaking out after a theme park employee made an “OK” hand gesture, which some associate with racist movements, while posing for a photo with their six-year-old daughter earlier this year.
Last week, the Anti-Defamation League added the “OK” hand sign to its online database of “hate symbols” used by white supremacists and far-right extremists.
In an interview with USA Today published Tuesday, Tiffiney Zinger said she was “emotionally distraught” by what her family experienced during a March family vacation to the Loews Royal Pacific resort at Universal Studios Orlando.
The Zingers are an interracial couple – she is black and her husband, Richard, is white.
Zinger said an actor playing a character from the “Despicable Me” children’s film series “put the universal white supremacist hate sign” on her then-6-year-old daughter’s shoulder.
Her 2-year-old son posed alongside his sister, next to an actor dressed as a “Minion,” also from the “Despicable Me” series.
A video the family provided to USA Today shows the two children excitedly approaching the Universal Pictures’ characters.
“It was really heartbreaking to see that somebody would do that,” Zinger told USA Today.
“We just wanted to take them to see the minions,” she added. “Do something special for our family and this person ruined that special warm feeling.”
Her husband, Richard Zinger, is similarly outraged.
“It’s more than the ‘OK’ sign,” he told USA Today . “A lot of people don’t understand what that sign means.”
The couple reached out to Universal on several occasions after reviewing their vacation footage in August. The company eventually offered the Zingers free tickets and a gift card.
The family is not satisfied with the response and have hired an attorney, though they deny being motivated by financial compensation.
“I just want somebody to take responsibility for it because nobody is taking responsibility for anything,” Richard Zinger said.
His wife told USA Today she wants to “cause change.”
“I hope this doesn’t happen to another family again, and I pray that this doesn’t happen to another kid,” she added.
In a statement to USA Today, a Universal Orlando Resort spokesman said the actor who performed the offending gesture had been fired.
Various media outlets have traced the “OK sign’s” path from innocent gesture to alleged nod to white supremacy. A contentious debate has emerged over whether those who use the hand signal are doing so to announce their support for white supremacy or whether they’re doing it because they know it angers liberals. Complicating the matter is a hoax campaign launched by users of the controversial imageboard site 4chan in 2017 to troll leftists by popularizing the association of the gesture with the white power movement.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, white nationalists’ adoption of the signal preceded 4chan’s hoax. The SPLC cited the use of the gesture by alt-right figures, such as Richard Spencer and Milo Yiannopoulos, prior to 2017.
Muddling matters even further is the use of the hand signal by truly vile individuals such as the suspected white supremacist who massacred 49 people at two New Zealand mosques last week.
The Anti-Defamation League initially dismissed equating the “OK” symbol with a white supremacist hand sign. And despite the recent addition of the gesture to the group’s online hate database, a blog post on the organization’s site still states “that the ‘OK’ gesture is a nearly universal hand gesture and most usage of it is completely innocuous.”
- 4chan: Screengrab
- Tiffiney Zinger’s then 6-year-old daughter poses with “Despicable Me” character actors at Universal Orlando.: Screen grab