An associate dean at Seattle University explained in an essay published by KUOW this week that he and a friend suffered a racial attack at Starbucks while most of the other customers “sat silently.”
Dr. Bob Hughes said that he was catching up with a fellow administrator at a local Starbucks when he felt liquid on his right hand that later turned out to be spit from a man who called his friend a “f*cking n*gger bitch.”
“That’s right, f*cking n*gger bitch,” Hughes recalled the man repeating before walking out the door.
“I turned to my colleague and asked if she knew the young man,” Hughes wrote. “She had never seen him. He went outside and stood at the window yelling more comments that we could not hear and finally walked away down the street.”
“He saw two African-Americans sitting in a Starbucks and decided that it was OK to assault us,” he noted. “She and I were dressed in the kind of professional attire anyone would expect a college administrator to be wearing in the middle of a work day, are still targets for hate.”
But the young man didn’t see educated college administrators sitting at the table. He saw two black people and, in his twisted sense of the rules of life, our socio-economic status, educational accomplishments or our age required no respect or deference. In fact, he seemed only to see a woman of color whom he could brazenly assault in an open space with others watching.
And although a Starbucks manager assisted in filing a police report and another woman apologized for the man’s behavior, Hughes lamented that most customers acted like the incident never happened.
“Everyone else at the café sat silently or went on with their business. In a truly post-racial world, that would not be how things work,” he insisted. “In a post-racial world, that kind of violation would mobilize every person in that space to actively resist an assault on two people – an assault that happened because of our race and because of the gender of my colleague.”
Hughes speculated that the suspect’s attacks would escalate and become more violent unless he was confronted and shamed by onlookers.
“Unstopped, antisocial behavior like this escalates. And he lives in a world right now where he felt safe taking these actions,” Hughes warned.