Today is one of those days where I have several different important stories about injustice in America to share so I am going to jump right in.
Let’s start with Waffle House.
As you may know, Black folk make Waffle House. We don’t have them here in New York, but when I lived in Atlanta, as unhealthy as it was, my family and I loved going. We had one close to our home and went several times a year.
I’m never going back there again. Ever. I’m not negotiating. I’m not boycotting with an expected outcome. I’ll never go back. They could come out tomorrow with some brilliant plan – it’s too little, too late.
Earlier this year, as you may have seen, a young woman was assaulted and arrested by police there. Last month, a young man, in a full tuxedo on prom night, was brutally assaulted and choked by police there. And it’s just happened again. Employees at The Waffle House continue to call the police on black customers knowing good and well what’s going to happen as a result.
This weekend, a Black couple placed a to-go order at The Waffle House in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. When they got the receipt, they noticed that the orange juice was $2.50 instead of a $1.00 – as it is listed on the menu. When they disputed the charge, which is just a $1.50 difference, and asked to call customer service about it, the store manager called the police.
When the police got there, they arrested the couple for theft and trespassing.
Here’s what’s wild – the Black couple never even received the food. They didn’t eat the food and refuse to pay – they never received it in the first place. And their money for the meal was actually on the counter, they just didn’t want to be overcharged for the orange juice. After arresting and assaulting the couple, police later dropped the charges once they accepted that no actual crime had even been committed.
Listen to me. Don’t you dare go back to Waffle House. Either make your own damn breakfast or find a Black owned establishment to go to, but patronize this company again. They don’t value us. They don’t value our business. And when they call the police on people over a $1.50 mischarge for orange juice, they know good and well that those police are going to arrest and brutalize those black customers.
Some of my friends are having a protest at Waffle House headquarters in Georgia on Friday, and I support that, but whether you protest or not, just don’t go back. We have to use our buying power in smarter ways moving forward.
I want to switch gears for a moment talk about something truly despicable going on in this country. The tendency is for us to believe that immigration issues in this country have nothing to do with us, but I want to quickly correct that and unpack why we need to be vocal and outraged about the widespread mistreatment of immigrants and refugees in this country.
First off, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Whether immigrants are Black or not is beside the point. What Trump is doing right now, separating immigrant children from their parents, sometimes sending the children thousands of miles away to prison like detention centers, is despicable. It’s grossly inhumane. And they are only doing it because they want to ruin the lives of immigrants and make it so hard for them to enter the country that other immigrant families get word and never try to enter the country again.
But I want to make three quick points.
First – this whole system is driven by white supremacy and bigotry and is truly just an expansion of the systems of mass incarceration. This is all about locking up and criminalizing more people of color. Donald Trump doesn’t have a problem with immigrants. His grandparents were immigrants. He’s married to an immigrant. His first wife was an immigrant. His problem isn’t with immigrants – it’s with immigrants of color.
Secondly, many of the immigrant families being separated are actually Black. A huge percentage of American immigrants are from Africa and the Caribbean. This shouldn’t be the only reason we care, but don’t think this isn’t about us.
Lastly, and I’ll close with this – we have plenty of injustices of our own to fight against, but at the end of their lives, Dr. King, Malcolm X, and Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party – all three of them came to understand that it was not just smart, but right, for us to form alliances with other oppressed people groups. And let me tell you who else understood how powerful such alliances could be – the federal government – which did everything they could to break up such partnerships.
Even if all you’re doing right now is reading, researching, and sharing articles about your concerns about this issue on social media, do that, be outraged, and let’s figure out some smart ways to help.
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