The U.S. is home to a blend of languages and cultures, but unfortunately some people use this diversity to excuse their own racism. On December 10th, one woman was kicked out of a Starbucks after she berated a student for speaking Korean.
Annie An, a university student from South Korea, was working on an assignment with her tutor, Sean Lee at Starbucks and speaking in Korean, her native language. A middle-aged woman interrupted the two, complaining loudly that they were speaking another language and saying “Oriental, I hate it.”
Starbucks employees approached the woman and defended the students, saying they had every right to speak in whatever language they like. The woman argued with the employees, saying that everyone in America should speak English.
One employee told the woman that she should leave if she had a problem with the two women speaking a non-English language. The woman refused and said that she would calm down if the students stopped speaking.
The Starbucks employees continued to demand that the woman leave, but she continued to ignore them, even threatening that she was writing a letter to get them in trouble.
The woman ignored the employee’s threat, and the staff members called the police. The woman was later escorted out of the building.
An recorded a video of the racist tirade on her phone and posted it to Facebook. In the text of her post, she wrote that the experience constituted “the most unexpected and unbelievable day.” She went on to say that the woman continued to complain after the police arrived. An’s video has almost 500,000 views on Facebook.
The U.S. does not have an official national language. But even if it did, it’s never okay to belittle someone else’s language or culture. Unfortunately, racism is still alive and well in the U.S., it is insidious, and it can affect people’s mental health. We applaud these Starbucks employees for stepping in and doing the right thing, and to An for standing up for herself and her rights.