News

Racist cafe owner faces backlash

He says white customers won't want a black barista

When there is a racist outburst in Australia, it makes the news.

But there was a twist to what happened earlier this month in Darlinghurst in Sydney.

Brazilian-born Australian Nilson Dos Santos had applied for a job as a barista at the Forbes & Burton cafe. But the owner shocked him by saying: "My customers are white. I don't think they'd like to have their coffee made by black people."

The owner himself had just moved to Australia from Shanghai nine months ago. It didn't matter to Mr Steven He that Mr Dos Santos had nine years of experience as a barista

The reaction came swift and hard with customers, and one staffer, walking out of the cafe.

After the incident was reported, netizens bombarded the cafe's Facebook page with criticism. It also degenerated into xenophobic comments including calls for Mr He to go back to China.

That wasn't all. The cafe was pelted with eggs and flour with vigilantes sticking signs outside the cafe.

One sign proclaimed: "How dare you come here and tell us how to do racism, we've been practicing it since 1788, thank you very much."

While many criticised Mr He, some were more reflective.

"Part of the problem is that a lot of white people DON'T like black people," wrote Rafi Alam. "While the cafe owner should be admonished, white people need to work harder to remove racism within society as a whole rather than just blame it on individual cases like this."

Mr He's problems are not over.

The Sydney Morning Herald said the Fair Work Ombudsman is investigating the allegation of discrimination as it is unlawful to refuse employment to a person on the grounds of race or colour in Australia.

The cafe has been closed since the incident and it's unclear if it will reopen.

Following the incident, the City of Sydney council condemned recent outbursts of "racism" in the inner city, including the circulation of a xenophobic flyer targeting overseas students, the spray-painting of anti-Semitic hate speech and the episode at Forbes & Burton.

Sources: Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Mail Australia

Race & ReligionCAFES & BAKERIES