A black family plans to sue Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., after their children were reportedly disrespected by a character actor because of their skin color, the New York Daily News reported.
According to Jason and Annelia Black of San Diego, Calif., they took their two sons and their cousins to Disneyland Aug. 11, where they were ignored by the person dressed in a White Rabbit costume when the kids tried to hug the character and pose for photos.
The family’s lawyer, Dan Gilleon, told the Daily News that the White Rabbit from the iconic Disney film “Alice in Wonderland” is the favorite character of their youngest son, six-year-old Jason Black Jr.
When the family visited the theme party prior to the incident, the White Rabbit character was kind and welcoming to their children. When they returned weeks later, they were shunned.
“The rabbit was turning his back on [my brother] like he didn't even want to touch him,” nine-year-old Elijah Black told KSAZ-TV. “I went up to try to hold his hand, but he kept on flicking my hand off.”
The boy’s father, Jason Sr., told the news station that they assumed it was a new Disneyland policy that the characters could no longer interact with the children in that way, until they witnessed a Caucasian family come along and the Rabbit was welcoming and attentive to their children.
"There were two other kids that came up, and the rabbit showered them, hugged, kissed them, posed with them, meanwhile that made my kids feel horrible," Black said.
“This white boy, he started hugging him, kissing the girl and hugging the boy, and they were white,” Elijah Black told CBS Local Los Angeles.
The family took their photos as well as photos of the other children to Disneyland officials in order to file a complaint and say they were initially offered VIP tickets, which they refused.
They were then offered $500 in exchange for signing a confidentiality agreement, which they also turned down.
When no resolution was met after several months, the family decided to hire a lawyer; they are demanding a public apology from Disneyland and for the employee in question to be fired.
“Regardless of whether the guy in the costume was a racist -- I don't know who he is or if he’s white -- the way he behaved, he was treating my clients differently,” the family’s attorney, Dan Gilleon, told the Daily News.
“I’m not saying Disney is a racist organization or that they condone racism. It’s about shoddy supervision of these people and dealing with complaints being lodged with them.”
Disneyland has yet to respond to the family’s demands but released a statement saying, “We carefully review all guest claims.”