A New Jersey mother has accused a Chuck E. Cheese employee of racism after a costumed character appeared to ignore her toddler during a birthday party Saturday at the franchise’s restaurant in Wayne.
The mother, Natyana Muhammed of Essex County, posted a video on Twitter Sunday that she says was shot the day before at a birthday party where her daughter was a guest at the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant on Route 23 South.
The video showed the 2-year-old girl, dressed in a pink tulle dress, jumping and placing her hand up for a high-five. But the restaurant’s costumed mouse mascot appeared to overlook the girl, while giving high-fives to white children on a nearby stage.
It is unclear if the employee could see the little girl raising her hand through the eye holes in the costume.
“It was her turn but he like put his hand in and then down and acted like he didn’t see her,” Muhammed, 42, told ABC-7. Muhammed said the snub made her daughter “feel invisible.”
“My 2yo was racially discriminated against. As you can see, he gives all of the (white) kids hi-5s & PURPOSELY ignored my black baby,” the mother said in her tweet. “When confronted, he ignored me as well.”
A spokeswoman for the restaurant chain told NJ Advance Media on Monday that the company’s goal is to ensure all children, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion, are able to celebrate milestones at Chuck E. Cheese.
“Chuck E. Cheese is saddened when any family or child has a less than perfect experience,” the company said in a statement.
“We want to thank the family who brought this to our attention at our Wayne location and for giving the onsite manager an opportunity to apologize and address their concerns in person,” the statement said.
The incident is at least the third time in recent weeks that an establishment catering to families has been accused of unequal or racist treatment of Black children.
Last week, a Black father accused characters at Sesame Place in Philadelphia of snubbing his five-year-old daughter. He filed a $25 million racial discrimination lawsuit against the amusement park.
The lawsuit came about a week after a Brooklyn woman posted a video of her daughter and niece appearing to be ignored by Sesame Place costumed characters who gave high-fives to white children.
Sesame Place apologized for the incident and said its employees will receive more training on delivering “an inclusive, equitable and entertaining experience to our guests.”
In her statement, the Chuck E. Cheese spokeswoman also said the restaurant chain strives for inclusion.
“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 statement 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 said.