NEW YORK — It’s everyday practice for Starbucks baristas in the United States to write customers’ names on their cups. But one employee decided to try something different by drawing — a caricature with slanted eyes to identify two Korean customers.
And it didn’t take long for the news to go viral, prompting a bitter reaction from the public who called the drawing racist.
“What the barista did was very offensive and I hope you do realize that this is a very serious matter,” wrote Evangeline Hwang on Starbucks Coffee’s official Facebook page.
Last month, two English speaking Koreans at a Starbucks location in Georgia discovered that their barista served them more than coffee. They each got a drawing of slanted eyes on their cups, where customer names are usually written.
The two immediately complained to the store manager, who reportedly didn’t bother defending the drawings. Instead, They were simply given a gift card.
Days after the news spread online, Starbucks indicated that the employee involved in the incident was asked to leave.
The incident continues to rankle Koreans, especially after a recent racial controversy at a Papa John’s restaurant in New York.
The U.S. pizza chain came under attack last month when an employee typed out “lady chinky eyes” on a receipt, instead of the customer’s name. The angry woman took the issue to Twitter and more than 100,000 people viewed her post while hundreds retweeted it.
“Another racist slur? What’s happening here? This is becoming annoying,” says Regina Kim, 27, of New York.
“A lot of similar incidents are probably happening more often. It’s just that we don’t know about it. I’m going to keep a closer eye on my receipt and coffee cups now.”
A community of Korean-American housewives went further to suggest a boycott.
“All Asians should team up and refrain from going to Starbucks,” wrote one user on Missyusa.com, a popular site for women. “We need to take action and stop getting pushed around.”
Aside from boycotting the coffee joint, the Korean community in Georgia is considering taking legal action.
“Racial discrimination, bullying and bigotry is unjust regardless of which race or ethnic group it is directed to,” stated the Asian American Legal Advocacy Center of Georgia.
“Assuming Asian-Americans won’t say anything or that these incidents don’t happen to the ‘model minority’ is simply wrong.”
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