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White customer berates Black Starbucks barista over face mask in viral video

This 2018 file photo shows a sign in a Starbucks store.
The Starbucks logo. A viral video at a Santee, Calif., store over the weekend captured a white woman berating a Black barista who asked the customer to wear a face mask.
(Associated Press)

In an encounter captured on video that has since gone viral, a Starbucks customer in Santee, Calif., loudly berated a barista Sunday and shouted an obscenity after the employee asked the woman to wear her mask on her face.

In the video, the barista, Alex Beckom, 19, is serving a female customer who has a Trump 2020 mask draped below her chin but not covering her face. The video shows the white woman, who was not identified, saying to Beckom, who is Black, that the barista is discriminating against her “because I’m a Trump supporter.”

“F— Black Lives Matter,” the woman says.

The woman then asks for a straw and sugar packets, which Beckom cheerfully hands her and the woman thanks her.

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When Beckom again asks the woman to keep her mask on the next time she comes to the store, the woman becomes agitated, saying wearing a mask is “not the law” and that COVID-19 is “a hoax.”

“This is America and I don’t have to do what you say,” the woman yells as she’s leaving. “Trump 2020.”

The barista tells her to have a nice day.

After exiting, the customer stops, turns around and comes back into the Starbucks.

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“F— Black Lives Matter,” she says again before finally leaving.

In a follow-up video on TikTok, Beckom says she’s a college student working her way through school and that she has set up a GoFundMe account to help her and her Starbucks co-workers.

“We all deal with this kind of stuff,” Beckom says in the video. “They deserve it too.”

A Starbucks employee at the store referred all questions to Starbucks’ corporate media relations.

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Jory Mendes, a Starbucks spokesman, commended Beckom for keeping cool during a “difficult” moment.

“We expect our partners and customers alike to foster a welcoming environment, and this behavior is certainly not welcome in our stores,” Mendes said when reached by phone late Monday. “Our focus right now is providing support to our partner who demonstrated tremendous composure during a very difficult interaction.”

Beckom did not return a request for comment, but told NBC-TV Channel 7 these incidents happen daily at her Starbucks store.

“I’m Black in America, so I’ve dealt with these kinds of situations before,” Beckom told the news station. “I’m able to stay calm and collected in these kinds of situations because I don’t want to risk my job.”

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Two other racist incidents in Santee in past months have made news nationwide.

In the first, a man wore a Ku Klux Klan hood to a Santee Vons. In the second, a couple wore swastikas on their face masks in what they said was a protest against public health orders, though a review of the man’s social media activity revealed a stream of anti-Semitic comments.

Dyer writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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