Friday, April 18, 2008
Not a Pretty Scene in Claremont
I’m still in shock after witnessing a blatant racist attack last week at 42nd Street Bagel. While having coffee on Tuesday morning, April 1st, I noticed a woman of color standing alone at the counter waiting to place her order. A rather large, older man wearing a “David Duke for President” T-shirt came up behind her, reached over her and slammed his travel mug on the counter in front of her. She picked it up and set it aside, explaining that she was waiting to be served. He proceeded to reach over her and slam the cup down again, and began a racist, misogynistic tirade, shouting “(Explicative) you, you (explicative)! You (explicative-explicative)!” and more, continuing to shout a barrage of foul words in her face, verbally attacking and berating her while she quietly stood there. A hushed silence prevailed in the small shop and the young waitress who appeared didn’t seem to know what to do. When the women of color asked to speak to the manager, the young waitress went to the back and got her, and the woman of color proceeded to tell the manager what had happened. (Remember David Duke was Grand Wizard of the KKK in the ‘70s.)
Now here’s the really shocking part—the manager listened briefly, and then she proceeded to call the “David Duke” enthusiastically over to the counter and personally got him his coffee! He made a big production of thanking her, and then continued to mutter in the filthiest language while he swaggered across the room and sat down. The woman of color had disappeared, and I guess it was supposed to be back to business as usual.
Shocked and offended, I walked back to speak to the manager. Another customer was already there demanding that the man at least be asked to leave. I told the manager how offensive the incident was and asked her to ask the man to leave as well. The manager, who said her name was Jennifer, explained that the man was a “regular, paying customer” and not a racist. Unfortunately, that was just about all she had to say. She had no comment on the horrible incident, the woman who was verbally attacked or on the 3- to 4-year-old girl and others who had been sitting a few feet away witnessing this vicious attack.
So the clueless manager managed to keep a paying customer—the “David Duke” supporter—but lost my friend and me. We will never go there again. And from the looks of the others, who were also shocked and offended and had walked out, may have lost many others. Yes, the “David Duke” supporter has a right to wear his T-shirt, as offensive as it may be, but an unprovoked vicious, verbal attack such as the one I witnessed is not acceptable under any circumstances and should never be condoned or ignored by the management.
I’ve lived in Claremont for over 30 years, have gone to 42nd Street Bagel for coffee and bagels since it opened and have spent many pleasant hours there with friends. Now I won’t go back and will tell everyone else I can about this racist incident that was ignored and seemed to be condoned by the management. I’m glad I spoke with the manager to let her know how offensive her handling of the situation was even though my words fell on deaf ears, but I regret that I didn’t get a chance to say anything to the woman of color who, after the horrible confrontation, left alone. If she is reading this, I’m sorry you had to experience such a horrible attack and then have it compounded by it being ignored. You did not deserve that.
The tone and poor handling of the situation at a former, local gathering place was very sad, inexcusable and shocking in the “5th Best Place to Live” in the USA.
Name withheld by request
Posted by me at 12:26 AM