The list of things you cannot do while being Black just seems to get longer everyday. From having a barbecue to swimming to shopping, there is not much a Black person can do without enduring harassment by white folks, especially police or security personnel, and now you can add proposing to the list.
On Sunday, Clyde Jackson took his girlfriend Cathy-Marie Hamlet and six friends to the Angry Orchard farm in Walden, New York to celebrate his 40th birthday, but unannounced to Hamlet, he had something else in mind. As the group sat at a table near the gift shop, they were approached by a female security guard who accused Jackson of stealing a T-shirt. She ordered him to empty his pockets.
“My boyfriend then emptied all of his pockets, while still trying to keep the ring box hidden from my sight,” Hamlet said. “She then walked away, and my boyfriend and I sat down at the table and he began his proposal speech.”
According to NBC News, midway through his speech, the security guard returned and asked to search Hamlet’s purse, which she claimed was too small to even fit a T-shirt. With this second interruption, Hamlet wanted to know why they were so interested in searching them.
“I told her that I knew she was just doing her job, but I couldn’t help but wonder if she kept coming up to us because we’re Black,” Hamlet said. “We were the only Black people there, besides three of the friends who came along with us.”
Of course the security guard denied racially profiling the group and left once again, but it wouldn’t be for the last time. After accepting Jackson’s proposal, they were harassed again as the security guard apologized then asked everyone in the group to empty their bags…well, not everyone in the group.
“I felt humiliated, especially after one of my white friends made a point of asking them to check her bag for the T-shirt, but they refused to do so,” Hamlet said.
When five other security guards approached and one of them suggested calling police, Hamlet said she knew it was time for the group to leave. As the guards took pictures of them and their license plates when they left, Hamlet found herself crying tears not of joy, but of shame. In a Facebook post, Hamlet detailed her experience and had a message for Boston Beer, the company that runs Angry Orchard.
“If you don’t want Black people buying your product or frequenting your establishment, then maybe put a sign on the door so that we know we are not welcome,” she wrote. “I love hard cider, but Angry Orchard will never touch these lips again.”
Boston Beer told NBC that they reached out to the couple in an attempt to “make things right.” They also said that though they believed the security guard had a credible claim, they “mishandled” the situation.
“I feel confused and conflicted over what to do now and how to move forward, that one of the happiest moments of my life could be partially overshadowed like this,” Hamlet said. “It’s sad that in 2019 we still need to have these conversations.”