A man who would only go by Pedro said that upon receiving his Los Angeles area Starbucks coffee there was a racial slur in place of his name, according to USA Today.
Written on his cup was the word ‘Beaner’, a racial epithet used to portray Mexicans or Mexican Americans in a negative light. The term comes from the prevalence of beans in Mexican cuisine, and derives from earlier slurs such as “bean-eater” and “bean-bandit”.
In the Starbucks in the La Cañada Flintridge suburb, Pedro noticed that both coffees he’d purchased were labeled in a way that indicated racism.
According to Pedro, the incident was no accident. The barista had even called him by his name to get the coffees.
With 54% of Americans over 18 drinking coffee every day, it is curious that incidents like this still happen with some regularity at such an established chain.
In fact, this instance of racial degradation comes just two weeks before a meeting on racial profiling that will happen at more than 8,000 Starbucks locations across the country.
The reason for this meeting was the decision of an employee to call the police on two black men who had entered the store without ordering. They did not order at the time they came into the store since they were waiting for a business associate to discuss a real estate deal over coffee. When the police arrived, the two men were arrested without being read their Miranda rights.
The restaurant industry is one of America’s biggest employers overall. There are over a million restaurants projected by the end of this year that will employ 15 million people, or almost 10% of the American workforce. With so many individuals of different backgrounds working tiring jobs, odds are that some people will say or do something inappropriate.
An epithet on a cup of coffee might seem benign, but to Pedro it accentuates the state of the nation. When offered a $50 gift card as compensation, he said that it was “an insult overall.”
He will meet with an employee later this week to discuss the situation further. Meanwhile, Starbucks prepares to shut down for one day on May 29 to engage in the previously mentioned nationwide racial bias training.