Black Students Told To Pay For Meal First Because ‘You People Steal’

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A restaurant manager admitted that due to his concerns over customers eating and running, he asks many of them to pay up front, but they’re mostly black.

Exterior of Stambaugh Stadium at Youngstown State University

There is clearly no limit to the lengths people will go with their racism.

Exhibit A: A group of black Youngstown State University students was arbitrarily asked to pay for their meal in advance at a dine-in restaurant, according to Raw Story.

The group of friends went to Royal Grill Buffet in Boardman, a suburb of Youngstown, Ohio, where they were told to pay before being seated. They initially obliged, but they later became confused as they noticed other customers were paying after finishing their meals.

Samora Savage confronted the manager to ask why their group had been given different instructions, and she was allegedly told, “You people steal.”

“I couldn’t believe the way we were treated there,” Savage said.

The manager, Jay Dong, cleaned up his words by asserting “a lot of people steal,” while speaking to The Vindicator newspaper. However, he admitted that most of the customers he asks to pay up front are black. He maintained, though, that he isn’t perpetuating racial discrimination because he doesn’t ask all black customers.

“A lot of people steal from me. If I don’t know them, and they all pay together and they try to run, I can usually catch one person and make them pay the bill. But if they all pay separate and they run out, I can’t catch everyone,” Dong said.

There is no signage posted that explains the restaurant's policy regarding when customers are asked to pay. Furthermore, Dong won’t establish an overarching rule that requires all customers to pay up front because he received complaints and lost business when he tried it previously.

Instead, he simply resorts to profiling people when they enter his establishment.

While Dong may have had many “dine and dash” experiences at his restaurant and has every right to implement strategies to cut down on them, these actions need to be fair.

He does not have the right to make his practices discriminatory. As The Vindicator notes, Title II of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits any discrimination by restaurants and other private businesses on the grounds of race, color, religion, or national origin.

You cannot just look at a person and determine that they are going to steal from you. The restaurant was prejudiced against Savage and her friends for being young, black, and in a group.

Dong indicated he won’t make the policy applicable to everyone because he doesn’t want to lose business, but that’s exactly what is going to happen as a result of this incident. People of color, students, and others in the community with integrity and decency will likely avoid the Royal Grill Buffet from now on.

He will learn, one way or another, that it does not pay to be racist. 

Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Flickr, COD Newsroom

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