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Chuck E. Cheese Snubs Black Child in Latest Incident of Mascot Racism

“I hugged her, told her that she would never have to beg for love, because she is loved by many," the girl’s mother said.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published August 5, 2022
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Image: Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images

A few weeks after several viral videos surfaced of Black children being passed over and waved off by Sesame Place characters, another video is now circulating of a Black toddler being blatantly ignored by a Chuck E. Cheese mascot.

In the video, 2-year-old Safa Muhammad, wearing a pink tutu and braids, is seen jumping for joy as a Chuck E. Cheese character enters the restaurant room. But as the mascot goes down the line high-fiving her white counterparts, when he comes across Safa, he appears to look down at her and then turns around.

Safa’s mother, Natyana Muhammad, excited to capture her toddler’s first interaction with the mascot, caught the exchange in a 15-second clip that has now racked up 3.6 million views on Twitter. In the tweet, Muhammad claims the employee dressed as Chuck E. Cheese racially discriminated against her daughter, and when Muhammad confronted him, he ignored her and the manager working that day made excuses.

While some Twitter users were quick to explain away the actions with comments like “Perhaps she didn’t get a high five because she wasn’t on stage,” others questioned why he wouldn’t acknowledge her if she was directly in front of him like the other kids. “How long could it have taken to give out a quick high-five?” one person posted. “This made me really sad. She’s just so happy and excited. Someone give her what her heart desires ASAP.” another commented.

In an interview with WABC, Muhammad said she complained to management after the incident, who then arranged a picture with Safa. But the impact of the initial snub had already set in.

“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,” Muhammad said. In an effort to impart a positive lesson from an otherwise poor experience, Muhammad told WABC, “I hugged her, told her that she would never have to beg for love, because she is loved by many."

The Chuck E. Cheese encounter is another heartbreaking example of racial discrimination in this country. Curious to read a personal take on why these incidents are so problematic? Hear from a Black mom on what these revelations mean for our kids, and how you can be a positive force for change.

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