On the whole White Rabbit/Black family thing...
Another controversy has unfolded in “The Happiest Place on Earth.” A San Diego family has accused the cast member playing the “Alice in Wonderland” White Rabbit of snubbing their black children in favor of white children in the Anaheim park. The family, who have filed a lawsuit against the company, also say they were offered VIP tickets and $500 in exchange for signing a confidentiality agreement after they complained to park management.
Jason and Annelia Black say the cast member acted as if he/she did not want to hug or touch their children, even turning his back to them to openly embrace a family of white children who approached. Apparently, the White Rabbit even “flicked” the children's hands away if they tried to touch him. Photos taken show the White Rabbit without his arms around the children.
The New York Daily News has all the details here.
It's a delicate situation to which we don't have all the facts, but it certainly invites discussion. It creates sensational headlines that seem like they might have been written as a fictional, ironic article for The Onion. The White Rabbit snubs a family whose actual last name is Black? That's mind-boggling in its own right.
How well can the cast members in costume actually see the children at their feet? Can some or any of the White Rabbit's behavior be written off as accidental/coincidental? We don't know the cast member here, and it isn't fair to judge his or her behavior without the all the facts, but clearly the Black family felt “horrible” at their treatment and that is certainly not how Disney wants its Guests to feel.
The other issue to contemplate is how Disney management handled the situation on the day of the event. Offering upset Guests freebies as compensation is standard practice, but asking them to sign a non-disclosure/confidentiality agreement in exchange for upgrades and cash back seems like it would look shady if things “didn't work out” and the situation landed in both the legal court and the court of public opinion. What do TPI readers think of this situation?
[Editor's note: Thanks to Rod for submitting the post. Follow me into the comments for my take. -- Robert]
A few thoughts:
I truly believe that this family felt like the costumed character either 1) turned their back on their children or 2) Seemed friendlier to another group of children.
Since I wasn't there and didn't see what happened, it is hard to figure out. But the family is only looking for a public apology and the cast member to be terminated.
And the second complaint is about Donald Duck (and that character happens to be the same color of the rabbit) Although it said the original complaint only listed a child being ignored.
I guess the story is possible. But seriously, is it probable that there is a character actor who actually hates black people? And somehow they made it through the Disney hiring process? And their handlers never once noticed the character avoiding black kids before? And no other black family ever noticed this and complained?
Thanks Robert for your extensive comments on this subject. Your hands on experience with Cast Members and costumed characters sheds a lot of light on the subject. Just to be clear, my post isn't suggesting the Black family's assetions are true or false. I just thought this (and the more recent, second complaint) was a topic worthy of discussion.
This whole situation reeks of people looking to find racism where there is no racism.
While aware of the situation, I haven't followed this story TOO closely, but I have noticed there's been no report (that I'm aware of) concerning the behavior of the children. These kids - and their parents too, for that matter - might have been hounding and bothering and teasing the character to such an extent the character finally lost patience and hoped by ignoring them they would leave him/her alone. While maybe not 100% Disney behavior, that's certainly understandable human behavior and the problem, if there is one, isn't with the cast member but with the parents who don't control their children.
Excellent response Robert!
On one hand, my knee jerk reaction is to simply dismiss this out of hand... I mean its Disney, even if someone who works there has some sort of prejudice, they wouldn't really be able to express it, right? The mouse is always supposed to be watching, right? Its just our runaway legal system gone mad, with someone looking for a quick payday, right?
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