Just how white is the “White Rabbit” at Disneyland?
According to a Spring Valley family, enough to sue over.
Jason and Annelia Black have filed a lawsuit against the park, with claims of racism exhibited to their two children by the walkaround character “White Rabbit” of Alice In Wonderland.
The Blacks, an African-American family from Spring Valley, claim that the rabbit refused to give hugs or handshakes to their children, Jason Jr., 6, and Elijah, 9 when they visited the park in August 2010. Moments after the alleged snub, Annelia says that the rabbit “showered affection” on a group of white children.
"He held out his hand and the rabbit just spread his hands and didn't take his hand," Annelia told 10News. "I was like, 'He wants to sit on your lap,' and the rabbit just twirls his fingers," she said, adding that her niece got a chilly reception, as did Elijah.
Jason Jr. was visibly upset because the White Rabbit is his favorite character.
"I went to hug him, but he just turned his back," the boy said. The Blacks did eventually get photos of their children with the character, but Jason said that he was only smiling “on the inside.”
"Our first instinct was, okay, maybe they have new policies, maybe they aren't supposed to touch the kids anymore so then we stood by and we watched," Jason Sr., told KSAZ-TV in an interview.
Jason then said that two other kids – one Asian and one Caucasian – came up and the rabbit, “showered them, hugged, kissed them, posed with them, meanwhile that made my kids feel horrible.”
The family complained to park officials on the same day. They received a letter apologizing for the experience they had, and a second later followed weeks later offering $500 in passes if the family signed a confidentiality agreement.
Annelia told 10News that she refused to sign the document, since the park did not inform her if the person inside the rabbit suit was still employed. She said that the suit is not about money, and just doesn’t want anyone else to experience what she her sons did.
"It hurts for someone to treat someone like that, especially at Disneyland. What hurts the most is seeing my children in pain," said Annelia Black.
The family has filed suit with Dan Gilleon, a San Diego area personal injury attorney.
"What's clear to me, I can't think of anything other than racism that could be the cause," Gilleon told 10News. "What it tells us is racism is even in places like Disneyland."
Disney issued a statement regarding the lawsuit:
"It would be inappropriate to comment on a lawsuit we haven't seen yet. We carefully review all guest claims."
This is the second well publicized complaint about their characters that the park has received in recent months. In December, a Reseda woman named Nastasia White said her 5-year-old son Razzi was deliberately snubbed by the person portraying the Donald Duck character.