I was at Starbucks on Melrose in West Hollywood (7624 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046) this weekend. It was just for a lazy Sunday to read the newspaper, work on my laptop and people watch. Just a chill Sunday chatting with a friend and catching up. Their must have been 10 to 15 people all of whom were talking and generally just normal loud starbucks. When all of a sudden a guy walks up to me and DEMANDS I shut up. No excuse me, pardon me, hello or anything resembling a pleasantry nope just shut the hell up. I was so shocked that I froze and looked around to make sure that I was the only person talking at Starbucks. I wasn’t but I was the only woman alone and that seemed to make the guy feel comfortable to be a bully with me. I said that I wasn’t being any louder than anyone else and to please leave me alone. He then yelled at me and finished with ‘comb your hair’ it was such a mean rude and racist thing to say that I literally was speechless for a few moments. I finally ‘zinged’ him with I DID comb my hair today! Obviously when upset I don’t come up with the best one liners since he was so aggressive to me that it was unexpected. I must admit I thought he was one of the crazy people who hang out at Starbucks so I just kept an eye on him to make sure he didn’t come near me again and my friend comforted me with reminding me he was being a jerk. About fifteen minutes later the manager (I assume) walked up to me and asked me to come talk with him in the corner. I put my phone down and said we can talk here can I help you. He then said ‘customers’ had complained that I was loud and if he got more complaints he’d ask me to leave. When I tried to tell he what had happened he was quite dismissive and kept saying he’d had complaints. I said ‘no’ you aren’t going to ask me what happened but instead just assume I’m a loud, rude and a troublemaker???? I told him I wasn’t doing anything and that they guy who complained was the one who was aggressive to ME not the other way around! Despite my telling the manager what happened I could tell he didn’t believe me and wasn’t listening at all. I felt so ignored and embarrassed that nobody said ANYTHING in my defense even the black guy who’d been sitting across from me who didn’t say ANYTHING when the other customer yelled at me and got in my face instead he hung his head like a weasel and put his headphones one (chivalry is dead with that guy!). But luckily one woman spoke up in my defense saying that I wasn’t being loud or rude and that I hadn’t done anything wrong for her trouble the bully customer yelled at her that she was ‘fat’ (proving what a jerk he was) but the manager still didn’t care until the customer yelled at her too not that he did anything. He kept motioning for us to be quiet and I just felt that his attitude was that women should be quiet and just allow the ‘men folk’ to dictate to us. I asked was he going to say ANYTHING to him for yelling at me to ‘comb my hair‘ which is a very offensive thing to say to a black woman with natural hair and for calling the other woman fat. He finally spoke with him for a MOMENT just to appease me but it was obvious he agreed that I should just shut up and be spoken/treated like crap! The woman who defended me and got called fat for her trouble got up and left. So I thanked her for kindly standing up for me and she said he had issues since he was glaring at me. She told me to leave but I decided to read my paper until I calmed down so I could tell the manager how I felt offended by his treatment. But I must admit to tearing up from being publicly humiliated by a jerk that I left and lodged a complaint on the Starbuck Facebook page NOT that I got an apology! What was even MORE offensive was a group of ten high school students came in who were loudly talking and at three different tables so were shouting to each other and he didn’t say ONE word to them. Of course they had a few guys with them and were white so I guess he didn’t feel comfortable yelling at them just me!
Sorry for the long blog but it was super upsetting to me and I was in tears at Starbucks after being spoken to like that. I really don’t think I deserved to be treated like that by the other customer and for the manager of the Starbucks to just assume from looking at me that I was in the wrong well it was very upsetting. It felt like I was targeted since I was a black woman and in their eyes that made me less. That it was ok to make a negative comment about my hair since it’s not straight hair that fits in with the American ‘ideal’ of beauty (White, Straight hair) and that nobody would come to my aid … well one woman did but everyone else just stared at this guy being a bully harassing me. Starbucks should be ashamed for telling their management to talk to someone the way I was spoken to! It made me sad and just ruined my day!