Disneyland News

Families claim racism by Disneyland characters

by Leah Zanolla
Feb 11, 2013

After one African-American family last week accused a Disneyland character of being racist, another family has come forward claiming the same thing. The first family, Jason and Annelia Black, said that the White Rabbit character ignored their children in August. They said that when their son reached out to the Rabbit, he turned away from the child. Their other son and niece were met with the same reception. Their older son, Elijah, said, "I was trying to pull his hand, but he kept trying to pull his hand out of my hand ... I felt angry and sort of sad." The Blacks said the Rabbit had a completely different reaction to the next two families in line – an Asian girl and a Caucasian boy. The family complained before they left the park, and later received an apology letter and a letter offering $500 in passes in exchange for signing a confidentiality settlement. Annelia Black didn't sign the letter, because she wasn't told if the cast member playing the Rabbit was still employed by the theme park. The family hired an attorney, who sent a letter to Disney, demanding to know if the cast member was still employed, as well as policy changes to prevent this from happening in the future. Disney is being sued for violation of California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which outlaws discrimination based on race, sex and other qualities, and a penalty of $25,000. The suit will claim three to ten violations of the law, based on the number of people present. The incident was allegedly caught on video, which the attorney will attempt to obtain.

In a similar incident in December, Ryder White was celebrating his second birthday at Disneyland with his family, mother Nastasia and five-year-old brother Razzi. Razzi walked up to Donald Duck on Main Street and said, "Donald, Donald!" The family claims that Donald turned away (they were first in line) and walked over to a baby in a stroller, even though the baby's family asked Donald to go back to Razzi, and Nastasia White was asking for a quick picture. Donald next went to a young Caucasian girl and gave her a hug. The family waited three minutes, then left, but noticed Donald hugging another Caucasian child as they walked away. Nastasia said she filed a complaint and also received a letter offering her passes.

Nastasia White has hired the Blacks' attorney, Dan Gilleon, who says he has received dozens of phone calls and emails since the original incident.

Disney has not commented on the incidents.