Disneyland in Anaheim, California is being sued by a family that says one of the park’s costumed characters refused to touch their child because of the color of his skin. It’s a story that’s so offensive, it’s almost difficult to process.
Jason and Annelia Black took their kids to Disneyland, like plenty of other families do every year. But they noticed that something was a little off with one of the park’s characters. When their son, who is African-American, went up to hug the White Rabbit, the character was rude and distant, not even touching the child for pictures. Minutes later, the family saw the same character hugging and kissing white children.
The behavior was noticeable enough that even the Black’s son Elijah commented on it, telling reporters, “This white boy, he started hugging him, kissing the girl and hugging the boy and they were white.”
The parents decided to file a complaint with the company, as they were justifiably angry with the behavior directed towards their kids. At first, park management offered the Blacks VIP passes to come back to Disneyland. After they turned the passes down, they were offered $500, as long as they agreed to sign a confidentiality agreement. That’s when the family decided to sue the theme park.
Jason and Annelia say that they would like Disneyland to publicly apologize for their employee’s actions and that they want the employee in question fired for their conduct.
Obviously, Disneyland cannot be held completely responsible for the conduct of every employee in their parks. If they had no idea that the actor playing the White Rabbit was racist or would behave in such a manner, they couldn’t have prevented this treatment. That being said, it’s their park. It’s their responsibility to apologize for this horrible treatment and to publicly state how inappropriate it is.
As a parent, I have to admit that I’m just shocked that such behavior could take place. Disneyland is every little kid’s dream. It’s where magic is real and being happy is the most important thing. That a child would have to deal with ugliness like racism at a place like Disneyland is just awful. It’s incomprehensible.
Deep in my heart, I want to believe that this was all a big misunderstanding. I want to think that this mysterious White Rabbit didn’t mean to be offensive or rude. I want to think that his behavior had nothing to do with anyone’s skin tone. It’s Disneyland! I don’t want to think that such a horrible thing could happen there!
But it did. And this poor little boy believes that a beloved children’s character didn’t want to hug him because of the color of his skin. There is no excuse for that. And there’s no excuse for Disney not stepping up, taking responsibility, and then throwing this family the most magical Disneyland parade that there ever was. If anyone is owed a happy ending, it’s this family.