The mother of a black girl snubbed by a Chuck E. Cheese mascot said she is preparing to sue the franchise, a week after another family opened a $25million lawsuit against Sesame Place for a similar incident of alleged discrimination.
Naney D. Muhammad told TMZ she was unimpressed by an apology she was given by Chuck E. Cheese corporate and that she planned to litigate to find some resolution.
‘My next step after they released the unapologetic statement is, yes, I do plan to take legal action,’ she said in an interview.
Muhammad tweeted footage over the weekend which appeared to show her two-year-old daughter being ignored by Chuck E. Cheese himself at a chain in Wayne, New Jersey.
In it, Cheese could be seen handing out a hearty helping of high fives to a stage full of white children, before seemingly completely ignoring the ebullient and jubilant black two-year-old at his feet.
‘My 2-year-old was racially discriminated against,’ Muhammed wrote with the video, ‘As you can see, he gives all of the yt kids hi-5s and PURPOSELY ignored my black baby.’
It comes after an incident where two other black girls were apparently snubbed by a character at a Sesame Street theme park outside Philadelphia, prompting a deluge of people to share what they claim is a pattern of racism harbored by mascot employees across the country.
But many have questioned whether the incidents could instead be chalked up to the fact that staff members are often wearing unwieldy costumes with low visibility – therefore making them unable to see every child reaching out for their attention.
Muhammed told TMZ the incident with her daughter was just another case of what she characterized as an increasingly evident pattern of behavior, and that a lawsuit might bring about some form of justice.
‘I’m hoping my attorney will at least be able to give us some justice, because at this point it seems like it’s becoming a pattern,’ She said, ‘With little black kids getting ignored at amusement parks and indoor playgrounds where they’re supposed to feel like a child, feel like, you know, loved and appreciated.’
‘This is becoming a pattern so we definitely need to get some justice done.’
Her plans to litigate come after Chuck E. Cheese released what Muhammed felt was a lackluster apology statement.
‘Chuck E. Cheese is saddened when any family or child has a less than perfect experience,’ Chuck E. Cheese HQ said, ‘We want to thank the family who brought this to our attention… and for giving the onsite manager an opportunity to apologize and address their concerns in person’.
That apology, Muhammed said, was dismissive.
‘Gave the onsite management the opportunity to apologize when she said, ‘I’m sorry you feel that way,” Muhammed told ABC 7, ‘Was that the apology?’
She said management instead ‘insisted’ her daughter take a picture with the mascot. Rather than the frantic force of energy her daughter was in the video of the snub, that photo shows her despondent and detached, while Cheese, unblinking, flashes a furry thumbs up.
‘Her demeanor changed from she was excited, happy, jumping, high five – to when it was time to take a picture, just stood right beside him,’ Muhammed said, ‘I hugged her, told her that she would never have to beg for love, because she is loved by many.’
The latest lawsuit announcement comes after the family of the two girls who were seemingly snubbed by a character at a Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, revealed they were suing the park for $25million.
‘Just looking at her face, it makes me want to cry every time I see it,’ the girls’ father Quinton Burns said during a press conference announcing the suit.
In that video, the two black girls from New York were passed over by the character Rosita, who had just moved on from interacting with a number of white children.
Sesame Place apologized in a statement for that incident and explained that the actor inside the costume simply couldn’t see the girls due to the actor’s limited field of vison.
During their press conference, one of the family’s attorneys called for transparency from SeaWorld – which owns Sesame Place – and for the company to compensate the Burns family.
‘She was ignored amongst a sea of other young white children who were able to interact, give hugs, high fives,’ said attorney Malcolm Ruff.
‘Kennedi was forced to experience racism at the age of 5. This is unacceptable and we will not stand by and let this continue.’
A few years ago, a similar incident happened at a New Orleans Chuck E. Cheese, when Damon Payne said one of the chain’s mascots ‘ignored’ his daughter and hugged a number of white kids instead.
Payne recorded video of her meeting the mouse, which shows her looking expectantly at Cheese with her arms outstretched.
He uploaded a short clip of the video to his Instagram page with the caption, ‘MY KIDS WILL NEVER STEP FOOT BACK IN Chuck E Cheeses. #racismdoesn’tcarewhat age.’
When Payne reported the incident and showed the footage the location’s staff, they reportedly offered him 50 free tickets to redeem at the store’s shop.