Social (Media) Justice Warriors Storm Eden
A reader sent in a story from a few weeks ago that I missed. I know this is Portlandia, but still:
Two employees of a bakery in Northeast Portland were fired earlier this month for denying a black woman service because the business had closed.
“Back To Eden Bakery” released several public apologies and statements following the incident, before letting the employees go. In one Facebook post, the bakery’s co-owner wrote, “We are doing business in a gentrified neighborhood in a racist city within a racist state of a racist country.”
In one statement, “Back To Eden Bakery” says that according to its own surveillance video, a black woman named “Lillian”, who is well known in the area as a “professional equity activist”, entered at 9:06 p.m., after the bakery’s closing time. Employees had also turned off the “Open” sign, but several customers (all white) who had already ordered were still inside. Two other white women who went to the bakery two minutes before “Lillian”, and were also informed that the business was closed for the night.
The bakery says “Lillian” left the store briefly and began recording video.
The bakery’s statement says that even though it does not consider the employees to be racist and that they were following the business’s protocol of closing at 9 p.m., they were fired because “sometimes impact outweighs intent.” The bakery also says in the statement that the way the employees went about denying the woman service, “lacked sensitivity and understanding of the racial implications at work.”
Seattle’s alternative newspaper The Stranger added more details to the story, which played out last month. It includes the video that Lillian Green made and shared on social media:
Green started live streaming on Facebook from outside the bakery. (The original video has either been deleted or made private, but it was saved by Andy Ngo, an independent journalist and Portland State University graduate student who first broke this story.) As she’s filming, another customer comes out and asks, “Is that as weird as I thought that was? What the f*ck was that?”
“I’m going to put this on Facebook and I’m going to blast their ass,” Green says. “They can live that life but they’re about to get all blasted on Facebook.” Later, from home, Green made another video. “I want to tell you about a disturbing, heart wrenching experience I had,” she says. She then talks about how the neighborhood has changed, details what happened at the bakery, and calls for a boycott.
As the news start to spread, people flooded Back to Eden’s Facebook page with accusations of racism. The very next morning, at 9:06 am, exactly 12 hours after Green was denied service, Back to Eden’s John Blomgren, who owns the bakery with his husband, posted a 3,000 word apology on Facebook. That apology has since been deleted, but Ngo took a screenshot:
This is insane. Bakery in Portland fired employees after they declined to serve a woman who came in after they were already closed. The woman, a professional equity activist, took out a video camera & claimed she was a victim of racism. #StarbucksEffecthttps://t.co/Xwb8fynXXvpic.twitter.com/gjbUpmTAcq
— Andy C. Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) May 29, 2018
“In this situation it doesn’t really matter that the two staff members working are not themselves racist because the call they made to deny Lillian service caused her to feel like she had been discriminated against,” the statement read, “Sometimes impact outweighs intent and when that happens people do need to be held accountable. Since both Lillian and the clamoring public were demanding that these staff members be fired that it is what we did putting these two young women out of work.”
I hope those two fired employees file a wrongful termination lawsuit against this bakery. They were following company policy, but because the owner of the bakery is some kind of guilt-ridden woke tapioca-head, he fired them anyway because this annoying professional woke person Lillian Green called him out on social media.
The jobs of two innocent employees were terminated because a black woman felt that she had been discriminated against (though she wasn’t), and went to social media with her allegation, and got the mob riled up against the business.
The point I was trying to make in the post earlier this week about the CVS incident was about how social media escalates conflicts unnecessarily. In the post, I recognized the fact that the two employees of CVS (at least one of whom is white) might have mishandled the situation — but I pointed out that we don’t know the facts, we only have Camilla Hudson’s version, and a Twitter clip in which the white manager is visibly shaking on camera. My point was simply that there was a rush to judgment on social media without getting context or the other side — and it cost two employees their jobs.
Now we see in Portland, a white-owned business fired two employees despite acknowledging that they had done nothing wrong, only to appease a black activist who “blasted their ass” on social media. CVS said it fired its employees after its own investigation. I wonder if the investigation was just a formality, and those guys were doomed from the get-go.
The bakery has since hired a consulting firm as it struggles to regain control of the narrative. Strategically repositioning themselves as the victims of a “full assault by the alt-right” (a claim for which no evidence has been offered), the bakery is now preparing to deliver its staff into the hands of professional equity educators to retrain them in diversity and inclusion.
So what on earth is going on here? In short, a small network of agit-activists, diversity educators, and sycophantic progressive white allies are trampling over the lives of innocent individuals in pursuit of an equitable power redistribution with them at the top.
Over the next three weeks or so, the story faded as the bakery posted images of their desserts, bumping their earlier statements out of sight and out of mind. Lisa opted to keep quiet. She told me she feared that speaking in her own defense would only be interpreted as another attack on racial equity. Even today, she is afraid of being identified and only agreed to speak to me on condition of anonymity. As a newcomer to Portland, Lisa [one of the fired employees — RD] assumed that this incident was a freak occurrence. She was surprised to discover that it’s actually part of an emerging trend.
The bakery did not hire Cameron Whitten, a local black activist, as a consultant to help it dig itself out of this hole. That led Whitten to make a 48-minute broadcast on Facebook to his followers. More Ngo:
During the broadcast, John Blomgren’s sister, Rachel Kentner, defended her brother in the comments section. “You don’t know John,” she objected. “You are so far off from teaching about unity and what you’re doing is divisive to an already fractured country.” In response, Whitten mocked her “white fragility” and stated that, “This is not about who John is. This is about the rampant anti-blackness in my city that you don’t know about and you’re complicit in, so I don’t care about the intentions.”
I spoke with Rachel Kentner, who was keen to clarify that she was not speaking on behalf of the bakery or her brother. “After it was all said and done, [Whitten] asked me in a deleted post of his to donate to his cause, which I did, but instead of thanking me, he reported me to White Nonsense Roundup,” a Facebook group created to mobilize white volunteers against white allies accused of racism. The idea is to relieve people of color of this “emotional labor.”
You’ve got to read the whole Ngo story to appreciate how SJW-crazy this entire thing is.
Social (Media) Justice Warriors are going to have us all at each other’s throats.
UPDATE: Reader Matthew, who is a public school teacher:
In following up my earlier CVS post, imagine how scary this is becoming if you are a guy like myself who is now midway through his teaching career (or any career for that matter), has a family and is also the sole income earner for his household. If there is any silver lining in this story it is that at least the 2 employees fired were fairly young and this was not the job that was going to be there life’s work. On the other hand, If I were to be fired over some crazy SJW nonsense that went viral on social media I would be total ruined. There is no possible way I could go out and start a new career that would earn a comparable income while providing the health and retirement benefits I have accrued. Sure, I would suck it up and do whatever it takes to put food on my table and a roof over my family’s head, but it would be at a catastrophic cost to my family and our stability. Things like that break people and families apart if they don’t have the spiritual fortitude to endure the suffering for whatever may be the end purpose. And no one can say for certain whether or not they and their family would come out on the other end intact until it’s all over. And then it might just be too late. I know this all sounds like chicken little exaggeration, but it’s happening right in front of us.
Everybody should watch the film The Lives Of Others for a sense of where this is heading. It won’t be a totalitarian state doing it to us. It’ll be us doing it to ourselves.
UPDATE.2: It’s disturbing how so many people can only see the possibility that this technology will bring justice by smiting the Bad People that they refuse to see the dark side of it. A reader points to this New York Times story about WhatsApp driving mob murders in India. Excerpt:
In India, false rumors about child kidnappers have gone viral on WhatsApp, prompting fearful mobs to kill two dozen innocent people since April.
… WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, has a quarter billion users in India alone. Some of the false messages on the app describe gangs of kidnappers on the prowl. Others include videos showing people driving up and snatching children.
False information has flooded social media in recent years, inciting violence from Brazil to Sri Lanka. The messages in India have preyed on a universal fear: harm coming to a child. And the millions of poorly educated Indians coming online for the first time mean many are quick to believe what is on their phones.
The story talks about a family who stopped in a strange town to ask for directions to a temple. A mob quickly gathered and, afraid that they were child stealers, beat them and left them for dead. One of the victims, an older woman, did die. More:
The region’s top government official said the police had gone around for weeks before the attack warning people not to believe the false kidnapping rumors. But they were no match for WhatsApp. “We could not compete,” he said.
The most recent mob attack was on Friday. A software engineer was killed and three companions were injured after giving chocolates to children outside a school.
If you don’t think this can happen here, you’d better think again.