Josie Ajak, a barista and manager at Gloria Jean's coffee shop in Cairns, Australia got a downright nasty surprise when she went into work. Ajak, who is South Sudanese, went to serve a white woman who entered the shop in a wheelchair and was shocked by the woman's response.
In an interview with the Cairns Post, Ajak confided that the customer addressed her by saying "I refuse to be served by a black person, get me a white lady."
Shaken, but determined, Ajak quickly came up with the perfect response to the woman.
Ajak reported to Buzzfeed News that she smiled and told the customer, "That's fine." Ajak then quietly told the rest of the staff, "She is racist and [...] we won’t be serving her."
The woman moved to the side as Ajak and the rest of the coffee shop served all of the other customers, completely ignoring her until she realized there weren't any white staff members willing to serve her either.
Ajak said that the woman gave her an "evil" stare as she left; what else can you do when an entire building has refused to validate your racism?
Ajak's friend, Jade Arevalo posted the story to Facebook using the hashtag #BuyACoffeeFromJosie.
The post has seen outpourings of love for the barista and condemnation towards the hateful patron, but the support didn't stop there. Ajak's fellow employees made a statement too, according to the young woman.
“When I came into work after it happened, the whole store was decorated with signs saying we don’t support racism and shirts with the hashtag, #NoTimeForRacism."
Regular customers at the coffee shop also made their voices heard, writing positive messages on a shop sign to show their appreciation for their neighborhood barista.
Community support can make all the difference in a case like Josie Ajak's. Rowan Silva, a lawyer in Cairns, points out that in Australia, the Anti-Discrimination Act doesn't do much to protect customers from discriminating against someone who is serving them. It takes good people like Ajak, her co-workers, and the Cairns community to stand up for one another and stop everyday hate.
Ajak responded to her supporters, thanking them for their comments and reaching out to others who have been discriminated against for the color of their skin.
"To everybody who has ever been refused service because of their skin color," the young woman writes, "This is for you. There is absolutely no room for racism anywhere in the world!"
Banner image credit: Facebook, 7 News Cairns