Two African-American college administrators experienced a terrible incident at a Starbucks in Seattle—but even more disturbing was the response (or lack thereof) from the many witnesses.
Dr. Bob Hughes, an associate dean at Seattle University, wrote an essay for KUOW in which he detailed what he and a fellow African-American colleague experienced in a Starbucks on Capitol Hill. He and his friend, who had just become an administrator at a nearby community college, were catching up when they experienced unfiltered, irrational hate.
A man came up to his female friend and spit on her, twice, before yelling at her, “f*cking n*gger b*tch.” He followed up with a confirmation of his words: “That’s right, f*cking n*gger b*tch.”
He then left the coffee shop and continued to scream at the two from the window. According to Hughes’s account of the situation, the man appeared to be a well-dressed, young college student like any other.
Hughes eloquently addressed the rationale behind such a hateful incident: “The young man didn’t see educated college administrators sitting at the table. He saw two black people and, in his twisted sense of the rules of life, our socio-economic status, educational accomplishments or our age required no respect or deference. In fact, he seemed only to see a woman of color whom he could brazenly assault in an open space with others watching.”
What Hughes found equally troubling, however, was the reaction of other customers in Starbucks—no one stepped in, said anything, or reacted in any noticeable manner, instead choosing to quietly return to what they were doing.
“In a post-racial world, there’s no silence. Even if you can’t directly act, you take a stand to support those who are assaulted,” Hughes expressed.
Hughes is absolutely right; silence is a form of acquiescence, and such racist behavior cannot be tolerated in any sense.
“Unstopped, antisocial behavior like this escalates. And he lives in a world right now where he felt safe taking these actions,” Hughes concluded.
Banner Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Guangzhou