Often times we fail to remember that racism is not just an American problem. It began overseas, internationally and it continues. Even in places that seem completely removed from the Atlantic slave trade. Places like Australia.
Josie Ajak, a South Sudanese woman, moved to Australia with her parents when she was 8-years-old. Today, she manages a coffee shop in Cairns in Queensland. According to BuzzFeed Australia, Ajak was making coffee last week when a customer, a White woman, decided to act a complete fool. Ajak told BuzzFeed, “[The woman] said “Get me a White lady. [I told her] ‘that’s fine,’ with a smile, and she moved aside, waiting for a White person. I told my staff that she is racist and that we won’t be serving her, while I continued serving other customers with a smile.”
Josie and her staff went about business as usual, completely avoiding the woman. Eventually, she got hip to the game. “She looked at me face angry, looking with [an] evil stare.”
As you can see Josie took a very civil approach.
But her coworker, Jade Arevalo, was a bit more crunk.
Jade’s post went viral and people began expressing their support for Josie, people started using the hashtag #buyacoffeefromjosie. Ajax was humbled by the outpouring of love.
What I love the most about Ajak’s response is that it reminds me so much of ideals expressed by the great Toni Morrison. She said growing up she always knew that anyone who was racist was somehow deficient. And while anger, outrage, shock, sadness and more are all natural and understandable responses to racist behavior, it was nice to see Ajak recognize this woman and her behavior as lacking in human decency. And she chose, brilliantly, to show her what it is like to be disregarded in the way she attempted to demean and disregard Josie.