Los Angeles

I got served a hot cup of crap at Starbucks on Sunday

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This is what my hair looked like and I didn’t have on any makeup but I think I looked OK. Not like a supermodel but just a normal woman grabbing coffee!

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!



I live in Los Angeles and am a professional in the new media communication and marketing field with experience in non-profit, education, healthcare, political campaign and volunteer management. I’m a trustworthy honest creative professional that is able to offer strategic counseling on marketing & communications using social media.

In my spare time I enjoy cultural events, going to the movies, being a foodie, getting in shape and dating.

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  1. Jennifer says:

    That is a terrible thing to have happen. It is so frustrating. I’m glad someone stood up for you and those who were quiet know they were wrong.

  2. Gilda says:

    Yes, that’s a terrible thing to happen, but it doesn’t necessarily has to do with racism.
    I’m white, and something similar happened to me some years ago, when I was living in Europe, precisely because of talking on the mobile in a snack-bar. I don’t talk loud on the phone, because I don’t like giving strangers details of my private life. So I knew the guy was being an idiot. In my country, there’s a saying: “Donkeys’ voices don’t reach Heaven”. So, as I didn’t pay him any attention, apparently the idiot must have complained, cause one of the waiters came to me and toll me off. At that time, my phone call was over. I was surprised, speechless and I didn’t even try to defend myself (and, of course, chivalry is dead). I was staring at the waiter for some seconds, trying to realize what was happening, and then I asked for the complaint book (which is mandatory in every establishment in Europe). Then it was the waiter’s turn red and talk loud. Politely, I insisted.
    After writing the complaint (I was so nervous, I was shaking), I demanded a copy, stamped by the restaurant and told him I needed it cause I would register the complain at the police. Only THEN the manager appeared. He apologized and asked me pls not to do it. I took a deep breath and agreed (I wasn’t going to do it any way, cause that would be too much trouble – I knew I just wanted to forget about the all thing). But my complaint was registered.
    I payed for my coffee and muffin and I left. Then I put on my sunglasses and I finally let the tears roll down my face. The all thing was stupid, unfair and I had only got an apology by the manager because of the Complaint Book, which sooner or later would be read by the owner or the Public Supervision.
    About 1 month later, I got a letter from the snack-bar, apologizing for what had happened and inviting me for a free lunch. You know? When I’m not well serviced in a restaurant or a shop, I don’t usually file a complaint. That was the only time. I just don’t return.
    So, till today, I’ve never returned. And they can surely choke with their free lunch.
    So, Cherry, cheer up: donkeys/asses don’t need a motive to be rude or to pick up on you. They’re just asses.

    1. Thanks I don’t think the manager of the Starbucks was being racist just sexist and dismissive to me and the other woman. Now the guy who ‘confronted’ me about being loud that I have to say was a situation where out of all the people talking I was the only one he told to shut up as well as the comment about my hair. He then said he ‘couldn’t be racist’ since he’s mixed .. that has nothing to do with his obvious lack of respect for women (calling the other patron fat) and the fact that he only confronted women but said nothing to the groups that had men with them or were just white women. A pair of white women were laughing super loud and talking about their dating escapades and he didn’t say boo to them. It was just such a surprise to have someone be that mean to me when I wasn’t doing anything. Than the comment about my hair was motivated by the fact that I have natural African American hair that isn’t straight and in some eyes my hair makes me look like a pickaninny or Sambo or negative Black stereotypes. I don’t think most non-white people would know the reference or how offensive it is to a woman who doesn’t conform to American standards of beauty.

      But I wanted to thank you for your words and empathy. I just don’t get being a mean person and try to live my life as a nice person who takes up for others.

  3. marcellamissy says:

    Have you taken a look at Starbucks BOD? the upper management??? All men. I hate that company and NEVER spend my hard earned money there and I suggest you refrain also. Another very strong suggestion, write to Starbucks corporate and specifically to their INVESTOR relations. Trust me, that will get you a lot of attention.

    Also, write a PHYSICAL letter to state what happened, the EXACT store and day and time it happened on and make sure you ask for a response from them and are not looking for coupons. Mention their BOD that’s full of men and no diversity of color. This is reprehensible and I know for a fact they do a lot of sensitivity training but I also know two good friends who used to work for them, one corporate and the other used to run stores and revitalize failing stores. Both have left and will never buy a cup of coffee from that horrible company again.

    Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or Peete’s or better yet, a mom and pop coffee house. I try to support small business as much as possible.

    Finally I’m so sorry this happened to you. I would have gotten that manager asshat’s name, badge, employee number and whatever else was necessary to make him know he CAN NOT treat you that way. Blessing to you my sweet friend. What comes around goes around and this guy, the jerk that was in your face and the abusive, racist, sexist manager who was HIGHLY inappropriate will get what they’ve got coming. What you give in this world you get back. xxxxx

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