Kelly Rowland has slammed Sesame Place after claims it “ignored” two young Black girls who went to visit the theme park last weekend.
Rowland called out Sesame Place – a US theme park based on the children’s TV show Sesame Street – after the incident, which went viral after a video was shared of the moment. A performer dressed as Sesame Street character Rosita seemingly ignores two young Black children who try to catch the attention of the character at the theme park. The performer then appears to offer a “no” gesture to the young girls while shaking the hands of others around them.
The video, posted by digital strategist Leslie Mac from her daughter Paige’s 4th birthday, was spotted by Rowland who later shared it on her Instagram stories.
The Destiny’s Child singer reposted it to her Instagram Story on Sunday (July 17) with the caption: “OH HELL NAWWW.” She later added: “OK, so had that been me that whole parade would’ve been in flames.”
The theme park issued a statement after the video was widely shared, writing: “We sincerely apologise to the family for their experience in our park on Saturday; we know that it’s not ok. We will conduct training for our employees so they better understand, recognise and deliver an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience to our guests.”
They went on to say that “our brand, our park and our employees stand for inclusivity and equality in all forms” and that the “no” gesture was “not directed at any specific person,” but was instead “a response to multiple requests from someone in the crowd who asked Rosita to hold their child for a photo which is not permitted.”
Sesame Place also said in the statement that the employee in the costume “did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devastated about the misunderstanding.”
#BabyPaige & her cute lil friends went to @SesamePlace this weekend to celebrate Paige's 4th birthday & this is how #SesamePlace treated these beautiful Black children. I'm HOT. pic.twitter.com/wATjpRzUF1
— Leslie Mac (@LeslieMac) July 17, 2022
Rowland went on to criticise the park for the response.
“Did you see that ridiculous apology that they had?” Rowland said. “When I saw this and it was an extension of what I grew up learning and loving about Sesame Street and Sesame Place, I don’t know what place this is that I saw,” she added. “It made two beautiful little girls feel like they were just not there.”
“I wasn’t trying to give it any more attention…I really wasn’t, but those little girls, they deserve an apology.”
On Monday (July 18), the musician told ET: “I’m still upset. I was livid and I know, me personally, I would’ve burned the place down. I’ve said it before and I really mean it.”
On the same day, Sesame Place Philadelphia shared a new statement with Billboard over the incident.
“We sincerely apologize to the family for their experience in our park on Saturday; we know that it’s not OK. We are taking actions to do better. We are committed to making this right,” the park said.
“We will conduct training for our employees so they better understand, recognize and deliver an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience to our guests. For over 40 years Sesame Place has worked to uphold the values of respect, inclusion and belonging. We are committed to doing a better job making children and families feel special, seen and included when they come to our parks.”
NME has reached out to Sesame Place for comment.