A mother in Wayne, New Jersey, says that the beloved mascot, Chuck E. Cheese, deliberately ignored her two-year-old daughter while visiting for a child’s birthday party at a local location last week — and she captured the incident on camera. Natyana Muhammad, 29, posted the video on Twitter, beginning her caption with “PLEASE RETWEET.”
In the video, the company mascot is making his rounds for the birthday party, an experience that is customary when you purchase a birthday package at Chuck E. Cheese. While the mascot gives high fives to many other children, who appear to be mostly white, the Black child is left with her hand out.
“On July 30 at Chuck E Cheese in Wayne, NJ, my 2yo was racially discriminated against. As you can see, he gives all of the yt kids hi-5s & PURPOSELY ignored my black baby. When confronted, he ignored me as well. The manager, Angie Valasquez, made excuses for him,” she wrote in her tweet.
Confused by the occurrence, which felt deliberate, she decided to approach the mascot in case it was a misunderstanding, saying, “I actually tapped Chuck E. on his arm to let him know that Safa was standing right there, and he ignored me,” Muhammad told NBC News.
Muhammed also shared that she then approached the manager regarding the incident, to which the person implied it was likely not intentional. However, after the topic got more heated, the manager apologized and offered her a private photo-op with the mascot, to which Muhammed was no longer interested.
While they eventually did take a photo, the mother revealed she was currently seeking a lawyer to investigate the matter and potentially sue the company for discrimination.
“I figured it was much needed," she said. "You don’t do that. Not only was it unnecessary, [but] it was also inhumane to do that to a toddler,” she said to NBC.
The company then released a formal statement to NBC News, sharing they are “saddened when any family or child has a less than perfect experience” and thanked the family for “giving the onsite manager an opportunity to apologize and address their concerns in person.”
“As home to millions of families and kids every year that celebrate the big and small milestones, including fun, our goal is to create an inclusive experience for children and parents of all ages, races, ethnicities, religious backgrounds, and learning differences," the company said. "Our mission is to provide a fun and a safe place Where A Kid Can Be A Kid, and all cast members are trained to ensure that we live up to this promise,” the statement explained.
The incident holds more weight considering that very similar events have made the news in recent weeks.
Last month, a video went viral of two Black children being ignored by characters in the parade happening at Sesame Place in Philadelphia. The mother of the children posted the video on social media platforms, causing outrage, which prompted the company to release a formal statement, shared on their Instagram: “Regarding the incident yesterday, our performers wear sometimes make it difficult to see at lower levels and sometimes miss hug requests from guests. The Rosita performer did not intentionally ignore the girls and is devasted about the misunderstanding.”
Another incident surfaced just a few days ago, showing a Black child being ignored by the character Rapunzel at Disneyland. Though there has been no official statement regarding the incident, it continues to increase in circulation in the media.
While it’s unclear if any or all of these incidents were intentional racists acts, unintentional racist acts, or misunderstandings, it seems to be a trend — and not a good one.