It would seem there's very little Black people in America can do without having the police called on them.
Former college professor Tirza Wilbon White has been visiting the same Dunkin' Donuts for about two years—she is a frequent customer and often takes advantage of the restaurant's free wifi to get some work done on her computer.
That is, she did, until one day she was approached by Christina Cabral, owner of that particular Dunkin', who said the wifi was off limits to those who had not made a purchase. When White pressed back on the issue, feeling like the rule (which was not posted anywhere) was being arbitrarily enforced because she was Black, Cabral called the police.
White happens to be a policy scholar. She began recording the conversation as it became clear she was being discriminated against.
Remaining calm throughout, she asked if the policy was new, whether it was posted anywhere and why it would be randomly used against her after two years of patronage at the store.
Cabral responded by saying:
"Oh, please. Don't get into the racial profiling. It's my family. I find that offensive."
For many White people, being accused of racism is more offensive than their actual acts of racism.
Cabral claimed she was planning on ordering signs explaining the policy. Why was the policy necessary in Cabral's eyes?
Well, in her words:
"They hang out here for eight hours and they get into fights. You can look it up; it was on Prince William County a year ago."
Emboldened. Tirza Wilbon White was told she needed to buy a cup of coffee to stay in the Virginia Dunkin’ Donuts… https://t.co/NibKiamDrG— Steve Ronzino (@Steve Ronzino)1542408671.0
The Root, who covered the story after White released her video, looked into the issue and "couldn't find any news of a fight breaking out in a Dunkin' Donuts, certainly not one with a 46-year-old Black woman working on her laptop."
Cabral further explained her stance, digging herself an even deeper hole:
"We're just trying to make our customers feel safe."
Safe from what?
The ever-looming threat of a Black person going about their business, harming no one? As is all too familiar in stories like this one, the conversation ended with Cabral threatening to call the police.
White kept her calm and asked:
"Now you wanna call the police because you don't like what I'm saying?"
@edpolicyteaches @dunkindonuts If you haven't already; Lawyer up. 1) you were racially profiled. 2) You were verbal… https://t.co/dxKpM9owRH— Jude MP (@Jude MP)1542371590.0
Cabral (somehow) still felt like she was in the right:
"You're offending me. You're the one who brought up racial profiling. You can take your recording, and you can do what you want with it, because at the end of the day, you're trying to blackmail me."
Shortly thereafter a police officer, who remained civil and calm throughout the process, arrived and escorted White off the premises.
White told The Root the experience was incredibly traumatic:
"I just pulled across the street and cried. Even now I'm so angry because of all of it and how it could have ended.…"
"I wanted to document, if for nobody else for my children, who I wanted to teach: There are no identity politics that can protect you from this."
"Your mom is a former college professor, but on this day, I was a black chick with no makeup on and a twistout. … Based on what I looked like, this is what happened to me."
White also shared her experience on Twitter.
4 - Perhaps your franchise owners are racist, but @dunkindonuts, what is your response? I called Corporate and rece… https://t.co/fUiFvYWiky— Tirza Wilbon White (@Tirza Wilbon White)1541733341.0
Many on Twitter were outraged at White's experience.
@edpolicyteaches @dunkindonuts I just read this story. With you 100%. The point you make about how you need to mana… https://t.co/S3NZMsKVvG— Roger Goff (@Roger Goff)1542394542.0
@edpolicyteaches @dunkindonuts @dunkindonuts This is ok? You're telling America it's ok to treat people like this?— Des (@Des)1542394398.0
@edpolicyteaches @dunkindonuts Outrageous. @dunkindonuts has lost my business forever. This "owner" should be fired immediately.— Eric Von Hoffman (@Eric Von Hoffman)1542393159.0
@edpolicyteaches @dunkindonuts Not all of white people are like this. Sorry that you had to experience this and if… https://t.co/YJX8tg3cYv— Wayne Mitchell (@Wayne Mitchell)1542400488.0
@edpolicyteaches @dunkindonuts You have lost my business....@dunkindonuts— Jason Stevenson (@Jason Stevenson)1542400154.0
@edpolicyteaches @dunkindonuts Would she have said something if you were white? I doubt it.— WiTNESS (@WiTNESS)1542375380.0
Dunkin' Donuts claimed they are trying to reach out with an apology and that Cabral is attempting to reach out with an apology.
In this case, however, like so many others, the damage is already done.