On May 10th, a Portland, Oregon resident named Lillian wanted to grab a late night bite to eat. She went to a local cafe called Back to Eden Bakery, and arrived at 9:06pm. Unfortunately for Lillian, the cafe closes at 9:00pm. The “open” light was turned off at 9:03pm. At 9:04pm, staff told the people in line that the restaurant would be closing and the line was therefore capped.
If Lillian was a reasonable person, she would’ve understood that the restaurant was closed and simply walked to another local restaurant on Alberta Street. But Lillian is a social justice warrior, so she walked outside and started recording videos about how Back to Eden is racist. See, the last people to walk in the restaurant while it was open happened to be white. Lillian is black. And instead of ascribing the closure to…uh, the restaurant being closed after 9:00pm…she chalked it up to race.
If we lived in a reasonable society, everyone would recognize that Lillian is in the wrong. You can’t show up to a closed business and demand that they stay open late to serve you. That’s not fair, not to mention quite rude to the restaurant staff.
Back to Eden Bakery isn’t a reasonable place. According to a company statement, “Since both Lillian and the clamoring public were demanding that these two workers be fired that is what we did putting these two young women out of work.” They caved to the social justice mob, and now two people are out of work because they closed a restaurant at its stated closing time.
The company is going even farther to practice performative wokeness. The owners announced they would start hosting a “reparations happy hour” and would donate 10% of their Mother’s Day profits to help bail black women out of jail. It’s their business; they’re within their rights to run it how they see fit. They’re not within their rights to throw their employees under the bus for doing nothing wrong.
The company’s attitude reeks of smug superiority. “Knowing that we are doing business in a gentrified neighborhood in a racist city within a racist state in a racist country,” the owners wrote, “We would like to consider ourselves fully committed along with you to the social justice revolution that this country sorely needs.” We’re on the right side, and everybody else is the problem.
In a fair society, everyone gets treated equally by the rules. In an unfair society, different rules apply to different people. Firing the two workers makes this country less equitable, not more. Justice cannot be decided by whoever yells the loudest or feels the most disrespected. (Sometimes that feeling of disrespect is valid. But having to play by the rules of “this restaurant is closed” or “this is the speed limit” or “this is my property” is not a personal slight.)
If Back to Eden is so concerned about gentrification, maybe they shouldn’t be charging $22 for a pizza. Maybe they should stop treating their workers as disposable, too.
Quick note: The featured photo in this post doesn’t come from Back to Eden, since I didn’t want to use something without their consent, or give them more exposure. Instead, I used this stock image. If anyone knows where these petit fours are from, please let me know so I can give them credit and then order a few dozen of those little raspberry confections.