Americans often claim racial discrimination and unfair treatment of minorities to be a thing of the past, but while racism might not be as overt as it was in previous centuries, racial prejudice and subtler forms of discrimination remain a sad reality. A recent incident in a South Carolina restaurant highlights this discrimination: a party of 25 black people was refused service at a restaurant after a white customer complained.
Michael Brown was celebrating his cousin's last day in Charleston at Wild Wing Café in North Charleston. He and his group of 25 people waited for two hours for a table, only to be told by the shift manager that there was a "situation."
"She said there's a situation where one of our customers feels threatened by your party, so she asked us not to seat you in our section, which totally alarmed all of us because we're sitting there peaceably for two hours," states Brown. "Obviously, if we were causing any conflict, we would have been ejected out of the place hours before."
Brown says several calls were made to the corporate office in Mt. Pleasant, but when he didn't receive a call back, he took to Facebook with this post:
That caught the restaurant's attention, and a representative for Wild Wing Café spoke to Brown.
Debra Stokes, the chief marketing officer for Wild Wing Café, says, "We had a conversation. It was a really good conversation. He and many of his family and friends were there about a month ago, and they are regular customers of ours. So, they were having a going away party, and they just didn't receive the experience that they have come to know and love."
In this case, a brief apology and an offer for a free meal isn't good enough — it doesn't justify the racial stereotyping and discrimination faced by Brown and his family. It's not even debatable that this was a race issue … just try to imagine a group of white people being kicked out for appearing "threatening."
Such behavior (in the case of the white customer) boils down to ignorance and intolerance, which really isn't acceptable. And it isn't limited to just racial minorities: religious groups, gay men and lesbians, transgender people, etc. are also discriminated against and even restricted or denied access at times because their presence makes other people uncomfortable. For example, Muslims (and people who look like Muslims) are often told to leave airplanes simply because ignorant people — without any evidence — assume that any person who wears hijab or speaks Arabic is a threat. Racial discrimination might have been outlawed, but many people still, out of prejudice and ignorance, treat minority groups with suspicion and unfairness.
Michael Brown's Facebook post has been shared over 3000 times as of Monday evening. In this case, the person who should actually have been kicked out is the customer who complained and displayed such intolerance.