Chuck E. Cheese is racist, according to one Louisiana dad.
Damon Payne posted a video to Instagram last week accusing the iconic mascot of shunning his black daughter at a restaurant in Metairie, near New Orleans, while engaging other white children.
“MY KIDS WILL NEVER STEP FOOT BACK IN Chuck E Cheeses. #racismdoesntcarewhatage,” Payne posted with the video. “Please do me a favor share this and tag anybody with power she didn’t deserve that. That’s at the one in Metairie.”
The video showed the mouse character milling about on the stained carpet in the restaurant’s play area as Payne repeatedly attempted to get his attention.
“Hey,” Payne shouted at Chuck E. Cheese as his daughter stood nearby, arms outstretched. “Come on, hey.”
A young white girl approached the mouse and hugged him around the legs.
“You saw that, right?” Payne narrated.
“Look, right here,” he said, attempting to redirect the mouse to his daughter, who continued to stand with her hands in the air, as if she was looking for a hug.
Another young white girl approached the mascot and gave him a hug around the legs.
“You don’t see her?” Payne asked the mouse. “You don’t see her?”
The mouse shrugged, then looked down at the child.
“Dad, look at him …,” the girl said.
Chuck E. Cheese waived to the girl as the video cut out.
“Ya, you wanna get a hug?” Payne said.
The father immediate jumped to the conclusion that Chuck E. Cheese is a racist restaurateur, but folks online noticed there seemed to be another, much less sinister, explanation.
“Looks like the kids who get hugs are those who run up to the moose and wrap their arms around him,” Patriot Analogies tweeted. “His little girl seemed scared to get close. To quick to assume racism.”
“Exactly,” VonCrypto added. “The kids have to initiate the hug.”
Others quickly confirmed the no-approach policy.
“I have a friend who was the mouse in hs, they aren’t allowed to approach, kid has to hug them first!” Jen Baltzley wrote.
Payne, who told WDSU the family was visiting the restaurant for his 3-year-old daughter’s birthday and he showed the video of the encounter to the store’s manager, who offered 50 free tickets as a peace offering. The next day, he said, a different manager called him to explain.
“Our cast members are trained not to initiate physical contact with the children – in case they are afraid of Chuck E,” a Chuck E. Cheese spokesperson wrote in a prepared statement to the television station. “We want to assure our guests that we take great measures to protect the experience all children and families have in our restaurants.”