Socio-political funny man, W. Kamau Bell (pictured) was served up a side of racism when an employee at a Berkeley, California eatery mistook him for beggar and told him to “scram,” when he visited his wife, who is white, his daughter and some friends’ tableside to show them a children’s book he had just purchased. It happened to be on his birthday.
Bell, who has been deemed an Ambassador of Racial justice by the ACLU and who hosted the critically acclaimed and Chris Rock executive produced FX comedy show, “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell,” wrote about the embarrassing racial profiling incident on his website (“Happy Birthday! Have some racism from Elmwood Cafe!” is the title of the post).
Bell was excited about purchasing the much buzzed about Selina Alko’s “The Case For Loving,” a children’s picture book about Mildred and Richard Loving, a white man and black woman who tied the knot in Washington D.C. in 1958 where interracial marriages were legal. The Lovings were later jailed for unlawful cohabitation when they returned to their home state of Virginia.
According to Bell, “One of [my wife’s friends] asks about the book I am holding. I show her the book. Seconds later there is a loud series of knocks on the window of the Elmwood Cafe. They are coming from the inside of the restaurant,” Bell wrote. “I look up and see one of [their] employees staring daggers at me. The employee then jerks her head to her left aggressively and I see her mouth say something to the effect of ‘SCRAM!’”
After not budging from his spot, the employee demanded that Bell leave a second time. Upon noticing that the white people at the table were not bothered by the visiting black man, the employee got some sort of hint. “In that moment, your employee delivered the line that has become an instant classic in our family: ‘Oh, we thought you were selling something,’” Bell wrote. When Bell’s wife told the waitress that they were married, Bell said, the employee apologized, then told his wife, “I don’t think it was a race thing.’”
The waitress was dead wrong according to Bell.
“Ummm… actually a black man being told to leave a restaurant because the restaurant believes that his presence is harassing four white women and their kids, even though there is literally no evidence to support that is TEXT BOOK racism,” Bell wrote. “It is so old school it has a wing in the racism museum, right between the sit-ins at lunch counters and a southern redneck telling a black man on a business trip, ‘You ain’t from around here, are ya, boy?’ My wife told your employee in no uncertain terms that we ABSOLUTELY knew it WAS a race thing, because we live with this sh*t everyday.”
Well in typical fashion, an apology by the cafe’s co-owner, Michael Pearce, swiftly followed and it was posted on the eatery’s Facebook page:
“We at Elmwood Cafe are absolutely horrified to read about the account of the event that took place this Monday. We have zero tolerance for racism. We want to find out exactly what happened and take all steps necessary to rectify the situation.”
Reportedly, the waitress who was responsible for the brouhaha was canned and Bell reportedly plans on having a public discussion with the owner et al, states Raw Story.