Donut Shop Encounter Teaches Lesson in Tolerance and Respect

Saturday Racism with my Kids

By Pamela Klier-Weidner
Director of Development and Communications, JCUA

Pamela Klier-Weidner“Would you like a little racism with your sandwich?”

No Dunkin’ Donuts employee ever said anything like that. But it was the clear message I heard during a recent donut run to a DD franchise just west of the Chicago city limits with my daughters Juliette and Charlotte.

As we ordered our breakfast, the store owner offered us a free sandwich for no apparent reason. A lovely gesture. We sat down to eat just as two Caucasian police officers walked in and sat beside us.

Egg Sandwiches and Racism

A sandwich order gone awry teaches a lesson in racism.

Fast forward.

A group of African American teenagers walked in and ordered several items. The police officers stared them down.

After the teens received their orders, one of them took a bite of a sandwich that apparently hadn’t been prepared according to the menu. One bite. He went to the owner and said, “This is not the sandwich I ordered.” The owner responded by accusing him of trying to get a free sandwich.

When the teen came back with “I just wanted bacon and not sausage,” the owner began yelling:

“You’re just trying to get a free sandwich!!! Get out of here! Get out of my store!!!”

The scene couldn’t be ignored. “This is an example of racism,” I told my girls. As they watched, I ordered the sandwich that the young man originally wanted and gave it to him.

“I just want you to know that not all people are like him,” I said. He responded politely: “Thank you Ma’am.”

Meanwhile, the friendly neighborhood cops asked if I was being “bothered.”

“Yes,” I said. “I’m bothered by the obvious racism I have witnessed in this establishment.” The officers then left.

This little donut shop drama that brought racism center-stage for my impressionable kids was sickening. I pray for the ability to raise them as people who will understand and embrace real equality.

All too often we close our eyes to racism. But its blatant appearance in a Chicago suburb gave a rancid taste to what should have been a sweet treat.

As we have been doing since 1964, the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs — where I am director of development and communications — has been fighting incidents of racism and anti-Semitism, large and small. With the help of our financial supporters and committed volunteers, JCUA will continue this work.

And I will continue to buy bacon and egg sandwiches for as long as I need to.

One Response to Donut Shop Encounter Teaches Lesson in Tolerance and Respect

  1. […] executive suite at Dunkin’ Brands is looking into a blatant example of racism I wrote about earlier this month on JCUA’s […]

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