In Young Lee, originally from South Korea, but now living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he's a first-year Ph.D. student at Penn Medicine, took to Facebook over the weekend to share a receipt from Taco Bell that shows a racist slur that one of the cashiers allegedly added.
Lee posted the photo to Facebook along with a caption explaining what he alleges went down.
The caption reads:
After a fun night out on Friday, I went to Taco Bell with friends to grab a late-night snack. I ordered my food and when the cashier asked me for a name I told him 'Steve.' Usually when I’m asked for a name at a restaurant or café I give a fake Anglo name instead of “In Young” because otherwise I would have to spell it out (which fails most the time anyway) making it inconvenient for both the cashier and me
"Our interaction was very ordinary and cordial even, until I saw my name on the receipt that read “STEVE CHINK”. I was so infuriated that I couldn’t help but to confront the cashier. When I confronted him, he said that there are three Steve’s in the restaurant so he needed to differentiate. It made me even more upset that he was protecting his case rather than apologizing so I lashed out and told him that it is extremely disrespectful to use such a derogatory slur. He eventually apologized, and although I was still very upset I decided to let the case go."
But apparently, the apology wasn't sincere.
"What really got me riled up is when I heard him crack up jokes with his coworkers in the kitchen. My friends and I were sitting close to the kitchen so we heard him using the word “chink” again to describe the situation as he laughed with his coworkers (where is your remorse?)."
"This is when I snapped and stormed to the counter and started yelling at him (I might or might not have cussed him out a little bit, oops. In retrospect, that was not the most ideal way to deal with the situation but I couldn’t help it). This is when the manager approached me to calm me down."
"He said that what the cashier did to me was wrong and that he is sorry. However, he rebutted that I was being disrespectful by snatching my food from the cashier. It was as if he was trying to defuse the situation by redirecting the blame on to me. But how does he expect me to be polite to the cashier when he deliberately took his time to spell out the word 'CHINK' to describe me?"
"When he attempted to condemn me, people in the restaurant started to berate both the manger and the cashier, which led him to apologize and finally admit that they were in the wrong. I thought incidents like this only happen in the news and never expected it to happen to me but I guess it really does happen in the real world. Normally I would let things like this go but under the current political climate I find it very important to address such issues and voice them loudly and clearly."
Since Lee posted the receipt to Facebook, the fast-food chain has removed the employee. Taco Bell said in a statement:
“We do not tolerate this behavior. This employee no longer works for the brand, and the franchise is retraining its staff to ensure this incident will not happen again. Management has reached out and apologized directly to the customer."
Branch manager Dontae Freeman confirmed the firing, saying that he did not witness the incident because he doesn't work weekends.
Lee told The Daily Pennsylvanian that he "didn't think it was necessary" for the employee to be fired and worries that it might actually make the employee "more resentful, rather than acknowledging he's done something wrong."
“I’m happy to hear that [Taco Bell] is setting the example for other companies who should not be tolerating this word,” he added.
"At least for Asian Americans, we don't speak up that much, and I think that's one of the reasons why stuff like this happens all the time, and it's usually ignored. I just want Asians in general to become more vocal about incidents like this."
Asian Pacific Student Coalition Chair Soomin Shin said the termination was a step, but said that there needed to be a "bigger step."
“There has to be some bigger step that Taco Bell should be taking because the fact that this has happened indicates that education and dialogue is needed."
Social media seemed to agree with Taco Bell's decision, though.
After being called a chink, In Young Lee r'cd a disingenuous apology. Heard the @tacobell employee repeat the word. This comes as no surprise to AsianAmericans. @BoyScouts laughed when I told them their ching chonging was inappropriate. Adults did nothing. https://t.co/j4GFyjU00n— Jae-Ha Kim 김재하 (@GoAwayWithJae) February 21, 2018
@tacobell So y'all had the moron employee fired but not the manager who enabled it and was fine with his employees chatting up racist crap in the kitchen? Nice. Still full on boycott for me and my homies. We'll keep spreading the word that Taco Bell doesn't take racism seriously— Alex C (@kcjlo10) February 21, 2018
It’s so disappointing that the manager excused the racist behavior. Hopefully Taco Bell takes care of this appropriately. It’s shameful that they would treat anyone this way but especially one of their own customers.— Trang Do (@TrangDoCBS3) February 20, 2018
Pretty sure this will go behind the scenes as an isolated incident and be dealt with ingernally. Not the brands fault an isolated employee was racist.— Floop flarp flippity flop (@MrFluffyThing) February 20, 2018
Do you think Taco Bell did the right thing?