Annie An, an international student from Seoul, South Korea was getting coffee at a Starbucks in Walnut Creek, California with her tutor Sean H. Lee on Sunday when an elderly woman in a lumpy teal sweater told her “this is America” and to “use English only.”
An was perplexed. “Excuse me?” she said.
The woman couldn’t stand to hear what she called “disgusting” foreign language, to which An replied, “We have the freedom to use my own language.”
In a video posted to Facebook, Starbucks employees can be heard asking her nicely to leave before they called the police.
While the woman continued to press buttons on her Dell laptop, she insisted that the Korean student and her tutor should “sit and be quiet.”
When confronted on camera, she attempted to hide her face with her binder, but slowly put that down and continued to make her stance known. “You can sit and be quiet, fine,” she said, “but I don’t want to hear your language.”
Employees persisted in asking her to leave, yet she stubbornly refused. “You’re gonna be in so much trouble when I get this letter out,” she warned, tapping a single key on her laptop.
“You’re pressing numbers over and over again,” remarked a female voice. The woman glared contemptuously. “Excuse me?” she hissed.
One employee had had enough, reiterating that if she didn’t leave, he would be calling the police. “That’s fine,” she said, matter-of-factly.
According to An, three police officers arrived a few minutes later to walk her out of the Starbucks.
An said that the woman didn’t stop berating her for speaking Korean even when police officers were present. She thanked the Starbucks employees for trying to defuse the situation.
“I wish non of immigrants and international students experience this SH*TTY THING,” An wrote.
Lee, who is also from Seoul and studies business at UC Berkeley, expressed the same sentiment, saying that racism and xenophobia is alive and well in the country, “even in the Bay Area that so often touts ‘diversity.’”
“There are hundreds of thousands of fellow Americans who would cheer on this racist lady. Is it even worth confronting them when they are so indoctrinated by their twisted ideology? Can we have a constructive dialogue with them? I don’t know,” Lee added on his Facebook page.
A commenter who claimed to work at a Starbucks in Downtown Berkeley replied that, unfortunately, these types of incidents happen often.
“It just shows how much more work needs to be done in terms of understanding who we truly are as a nation,” the commenter said.
Right Featured Image via Facebook / Annie An