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Texas-based Chuck E. Cheese starts culture training after mascot ignores Black toddler

Dallas Morning News logo Dallas Morning News 8/6/2022 Alexandra Skores, The Dallas Morning News
Irving-based Chuck E. Cheese will implement companywide sensitivity training following its mascot snub of a 2- year-old Black toddler in New Jersey. © Ashley Landis/The Dallas Morning News/TNS Irving-based Chuck E. Cheese will implement companywide sensitivity training following its mascot snub of a 2- year-old Black toddler in New Jersey.

DALLAS — Irving-based family entertainment chain Chuck E. Cheese is developing a new approach to cultural sensitivity after a mascot in New Jersey ignored a Black child at one of the franchise’s locations.

On July 30, Natyana Muhammad visited the company’s Wayne, New Jersey, restaurant with her 2-year-old. As the mouse mascot was approaching a group of children, he high-fived multiple white children, but ignored Muhammad’s little girl. Muhammad took to Twitter to tell her story. The tweet has over 82,000 likes.

“On July 30 at Chuck E Cheese in Wayne, NJ, my 2yo was racially discriminated against,” her tweet said. “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.”

David McKillips, Chuck E. Cheese’s president and CEO, and senior leadership will visit the Wayne location to discuss the incident, the store’s performance and the company’s plans for improving experiences for guests, the company said Friday.

Kanarys, a Dallas-based diversity startup and the franchise’s partner since 2021, will lead employee engagement sessions next week and work with the company on culture and sensitivity training. First on the company’s list will be implementing training at the Wayne location and surrounding locations, then it will expand out to all of the U.S. locations.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to improve our experience in every aspect of our business and welcome guests to continue to provide feedback to better inform our processes,” the company said in announcing the training. “As always, our mission is to provide a fun and safe place where families can make life-long memories and to ensure that every guest leaves happy, each and every day.”

Just last week, a Maryland family sued a Sesame Street theme park in Pennsylvania for $25 million alleging that multiple characters at the park ignored their 5-year-old Black daughter and other Black guests, the Guardian reported.

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©2022 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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