Two black children were apparently snubbed by someone wearing a mask. This is one of many strange stories. Sesame Street character Rosita at the children’s theme park Sesame Place, which has turned into a controversy with allegations of racist behavior. An odd enough story on its own, MSNBC host Joy Reid made the story surrounding the incident even odder on Tuesday evening’s ReidOut by using it to attack Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s recent anti-CRT bill.
The bizarre line of attack came at the end of a segment about the incident with civil rights attorney Charles Coleman Jr. Coleman ended by telling Reid, “when something like this happens, you have to take it seriously because the fallout as we are seeing can be tremendous.”
Since taking the problem “seriously” in Reid’s mind would most likely involve a heavy dose of Critical Race Theory, she launched into a lengthy diatribe against her favorite conservative bogeyman, Ron DeSantis:
And by the way, this is another statement about why it’s important who you vote for because this is in Pennsylvania, where there’s at least a chance…— you know, if this was in Florida, they have now passed this anti-woke law that said that they couldn’t even do the diversity training and the communication internally that Sesame Place has vowed to do because Ron DeSantis doesn’t like that. He doesn’t like anything that makes white — uh, white — white people feel uncomfortable so they couldn’t even do it if they were in Florida. Take care who you vote.
The “anti-woke law” Reid referred to was HB 7 (summarized here and can be read in full here), which stated that it is unlawful for employers to train employees to believe that race, sex, or country makes someone morally superior to someone else, or that someone is responsible for the actions of others who share the aforementioned characteristics.
Therefore, there’s nothing in the bill making it illegal for Sesame Place to ensure its workers aren’t intentionally ignoring black children.
HB 7 isn’t racist. Some of its provisions, however, are anti-racist. Let’s take, for instance, this summary of Florida’s plans to teach African American history in schools.
The bill Expands the required instruction in African-American history. The bill, for example, requires African-American history instruction Students should be aware of the effects of racism and prejudice on individual freedoms. They also need to understand what it takes to be responsible and respectful in order for tolerance and inclusion.They are responsible for fostering and protecting democracy and its institutions.
Remember, white supremacy is teaching children about African-American history “for the purpose of encouraging tolerance of diversity.” Good grief.
Whether or not Sesame Place’s promised “bias training” would run afoul of HB 7 is unknown, and the number of similar videos appearing after the original story broke indicated Sesame Workshop may not have made the best hiring decisions.
But sure Joy, let’s attack the man trying to keep toxic and divisive perspectives on race relations out of the classroom and workforce.
This strange segue was possible because Colonial PennAnd Trivago. You can find their contact information here.
Click “Expand” to see the relevant transcript.
7.33.25 pm ET
OK. Friends from the show are aware that I love Sesame Street. You know who doesn’t love fuzzy muppets? Grover! You know that I am looking at you. What do you love? Sesame StreetThe show stands for education and reading. But it also represents an intentional vision of a diverse, inclusive community, which America was unable to accept in the 1960s. People are particularly upset by the apparent snubbing two little black girls at Sesame Park, a Pennsylvania children’s park.
Now, to be clear, Sesame Place has a licensing agreement with Sesame Workshop but is operated by SeaWorld’s Parks and Entertainment, not by the folks who make Sesame Street. This viral video captures the essence of virality Sesame StreetCharacter Rosita hugs two young black girls as she passes them during a parade. That’s according to the mother of one of the girls who posted the video on Instagram.
Sesame Place initially apologized in a statement saying the performer’s “no” hand gesture was not specifically directed at the girls. Well when that didn’t go over so well they released a second apology saying, “we are committed to making this right.”
Charles Coleman Jr., an ex-prosecutor and civil rights attorney, is back with me. And — and Charles, thank you for sticking with us. We did try to get on — um, the attorney — it was B’Ivory LaMarr — um, for the families, but we had a little bit of technical difficulties getting him on so I — we really appreciate you coming in and — and pinch-hitting.
But I — I want to talk about — I want to first play one of the moms, Jody Brown. She is the aunty for one of the little daughters and the mom of another. CNN reported this earlier today.
[Cuts to clip]
JODY BROWN [on CNN’s Newsroom, 07/19/22]: The kids are supposed to be — you know, happy and — you know, acknowledged and greeted and having a good time so the fact that this even happened, the fact that this was even going to be a core memory for them — um, when it comes to Sesame Place is actually disgusting and unbelievable. [SCREEN WIPE] So now that I spoke up and released my video now there’s multiple parents who have similar videos with that character doing the same thing to the same race of children — um, so for me that’s not a coincidence at all.
[End of clip]
REID: Yes, I do. I have on my Instagram a bunch of these other videos I — that I pulled from Jackie Reid’s Instagram feed. And the theGrio has a story that social media is up in arms — um, that there are other families who are now posting videos — you know, saying that they’ve had the same treatment go to their kids. Your thoughts on this and what kind of — you know, I don’t know — what could the family theoretically do because it is emotional distress, right?
CHARLES COLEMAN Jr.: This is a case of extreme emotional distress. I believe that the family must seek some legal relief that will address what has happened injunctive relief or financial compensation. Now before we talk about being litigious I think for me the biggest takeaway and the bigger point is that — believe black people.
We don’t make this up when we experience something that happened due to the way we look and what we wear. People often try to convince us that what they experienced was not the truth, but we all know it.
And what we have learned in the coming — you know, in the — in the following days and the moments after this has occurred is that more people have spoken out and more people have said, no, I actually had the same experience, and so it is the most abhorrent form of gaslighting for you to tell these people, no, I know that you think what happened to you happened to you, but it really didn’t happen to you, when in fact we know that it did and this happens all the time which is why it’s important that these families together as a collective look to hold Sesame Place and its ownership accountable.
REID: Right. I mean — and Sesame Place said that they reached out to the family — you know, they sent us another statement saying that they — you know, tried to make it right. The children’s experiences were unacceptable, they said. They said they’ve been in contact — but — but I mean the thing is for lots and lots of families who have experienced the same thing with their children.
I have another friend who’s got an adopted daughter who is Asian-American who said she experienced it many years ago. You know, other people with black children or — you know, black parents are all going on Instagram and saying, no, this happened to my little black kid. There’s something systemically wrong.
That is what I am referring to Sesame Streetwas created in order to provide opportunities for children of color and minorities to learn. Rosita is the first bilingual Muppet — they’ve got an Asian-American Muppet, a Muppet in a wheelchair on Sesame Street. It’s perverting the idea of Sesame StreetBecause people often associate them.
COLEMAN Sesame StreetIts owners and operators should be very concerned about the way this happens. The owner of the show should be extremely concerned about how it works. Sesame StreetIt exists in both a vacuum, as well as a utopia called TV, which allows you to edit and see things closer and learn how they function. Sesame Place has a sad reality: it is actually populated by people with prejudices.
But the problem, Joy, is that this can actually do reputational damage to your brand —
COLEMAN: — if you are not vigilant about addressing these things, which is why it has to be of paramount concern for Sesame Place to actually address. You have to be on top of these things systemically because at the end of the day while you make — while you may make valiant efforts to do a thorough vetting process, you ultimately don’t know who you’re hiring these days, and so when something like this happens, you have to take it seriously because the fallout as we are seeing can be tremendous.
REID: And by the way, this is another statement about why it’s important who you vote for because this is in Pennsylvania, where there’s at least a chance —
COLEMAN: It is.
REID: — you know, if this was in Florida, they have now passed this anti-woke law that said that they couldn’t even do the diversity training and the communication internally that Sesame Place has vowed to do because Ron DeSantis doesn’t like that. He doesn’t like anything that makes white — uh, white — white people feel uncomfortable so they couldn’t even do it if they were in Florida. Pay attention to who you vote.
Charles Coleman, I am so grateful.