When a Black family took a trip to Disneyland in August, one of their young sons wanted to hug the The Rabbit from Alice In Wonderland.
But the parents of the boy claim that when he had his change to embrace the Disney character, the bunny rejected him. "I went to hug him but he turned his back," the 6-year-old said. "It's made me feel sad because I wanted to really hug him."
"The Rabbit was turning his back on him like he didn't want to touch him," said his older brother Elijah Black. "Then I went up and tried to hold his hand but he kept flicking my hand off."
Now the family has filed a lawsuit against Disneyland, claiming that the actor playing the famed character discriminated against their son because he is Black, Fox 40 in California reports.
The boy's mother, Annelia Black, says she tried to figure out what was going on but got nowhere. "I asked the rabbit, I said 'he wants to hug you,'" she said. "He's like twirling his fingers, like hurry up take the picture."
The boy's father, Jason LeRoy Black Sr, says it was clear what the actor was trying to do. "When the rabbit shied away from the kids, our first instinct was, maybe they have a new policy," he figured. "Maybe they aren't supposed to touch the kids anymore. So we stood by and watched."
And what they saw disturbed them. When two white kids approached The Rabbit, the Blacks said the actor's behavior changed. "[The] Rabbit showered, hugged, kissed and posed with them and took pictures," he said. "That made my kids feel horrible, it made us as adults feel horrible."
The family said they immediately went to management to complain and showed them photos, which they argue distinguish how the actor interacted with their kids and the white ones. The parents filed an official complaint and were offered VIP passes. They did not accept them.
Since August, the Blacks and Disney have exchanged correspondence over the incident. Disney has asked the Blacks to sign a confidentiality waiver in exchange for $500. But the family has hired an attorney to assist them in getting the company to fire the employee and apologize.
"They're not trying to get something they don't deserve," said their attorney Dan Gilleon. "In fact all they've asked for is a little bit of recognition that this should not have happened."