Black Woman at Starbucks Called ‘ F***ing N****r B*tch’, Customers Kee — United Black Books
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Black Woman at Starbucks Called ‘ F***ing N****r B*tch’, Customers Keep on Sipping

Seattle University professor Bob Hughes says he and a female colleague endured racial slurs at a local Starbucks. Courtesy Seattle University
Seattle University professor Bob Hughes says he and a female colleague endured racial slurs at a local Starbucks. Courtesy Seattle University

Bob Hughes, an associate professor at Seattle University, met up with his former colleague at a Starbucks in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The two hadn’t seen each other in a while and were about 30 minutes into catching up over coffee when Hughes noticed that his hand was wet.

The associate dean explains what happened next in an essay published on kuow.org this week.

“But then, I heard someone behind me say something that sounded like, ‘f***ing n****r b*tch’.”

Not sure if his ears were deceiving him, he turned to see a young, white male seated directly behind him.

“That’s right, f***ing n****r b*tch”, the man repeated, before exiting the coffee shop.

“I turned to my colleague and asked if she knew the young man. 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.”

Hughes notes it wasn’t until then that he realized he’d felt the man’s saliva on his hand earlier.

“He had spit at my colleague, as it turned out, twice.”

As disturbing as the brazen act of misogynistic racism was, Hughes was most affected by the total lack of concern shown by other patrons.

Aside from the store manager, who aided the academic professionals in filing the police report, and one apologetic bystander, “[e]veryone 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,” Hughes wrote.

“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.

In a post-racial world, there’s no silence.”

The verbal attack served as a reminder that no amount of degrees or fancy business attire can hide the color of an African American’s skin. Nothing could have saved them from the man’s ire.

“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.”

Hughes theorized that the Starbucks crowd’s implied consent would only embolden the perpetrator.

“My guess is that the next time, this young man will be more violent and his next incident will be more brash. Unstopped, antisocial behavior like this escalates. And he lives in a world right now where he felt safe taking these actions.”

Hughes’ essay is a slightly updated version of a blog posted to his personal website on May 2.

Capitol Hill Times reports the professor and his coffee companion filed a report with the Seattle Police Department on the day of the incident.

The four responding officers were provided with Starbucks’ surveillance video to help with investigations.

“It’s my understanding that they’re investigating it as a hate crime, because frankly that’s what it was,” Hughes said.

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