After ordering a drink from Starbucks, a Muslim woman was upset to see the name the barista had written on her cup. Now, she’s threatening to sue if they don’t meet her list of demands, which includes terminating the employee and manager as well as diversity training.
A Minneapolis woman claims she is the victim of discrimination after a Starbucks employee at a Target in St. Paul, Minnesota, put the wrong name on her cup. Aishah, who has only given her first name over concerns for her safety, says that the incident occurred after she ordered a drink on her way to her job as a home care worker.
Aishah, a 19-year-old college student, says that a female barista asked for her name, which she gave several times, The Kansas City Star reports. However, instead of seeing some variation of her name on the cup, the young woman claims she received a targeted insult akin to a racial slur.
The name that caused Aishah such distress was none other than “ISIS,” a term that has widely been used as an abbreviation for the notorious terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, according to the Sahan Journal.
“When I first received the drink I was in shock,” Aishah, who wears the hijab, said at a press conference at the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ offices in Minneapolis. “I felt humiliated, I felt enraged, I felt belittled.”
Aishah insists that she was targeted for her Muslim faith, alleging that the employee had acted in a discriminatory manner. She says that she immediately complained to the barista and a Target manager, who offered her a new drink and a $25 gift card. A subsequent statement from Target suggests that the employee may have misheard Aishah’s name.
“We have investigated the matter and believe that it was not a deliberate act but an unfortunate mistake that could have been avoided with more clarification,” the statement read. “We’re taking appropriate actions with the team member, including additional training, to ensure this does not occur again.”
Still, Aishah wasn’t satisfied. She wanted a list of demands met, which included another apology, the termination of both the barista and manager, a more thorough vetting process of employees, and a meticulous sensitivity training rather than a one-time workshop.
On behalf of Aishah, the Council on American-Islamic Relations threatened a civil rights lawsuit against Target. Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of the Minnesota chapter, also called for a boycott of Target and protests.
“When we talk about this word ISIS and the weight that it has in the Muslim community, unfortunately with Islamophobia — the number one thing discriminatory identified is ‘terrorist,’” Hussein said. “And the fact of the matter here is that using this word for us would be the same as a Black man today, being used the N-word, or anything else that would be offensive.”
Common sense would suggest that the barista wouldn’t have asked the customer to repeat her name several times if she planned to write an offensive term on the cup anyway. Additionally, the writing doesn’t appear to be “ISIS” but rather “Isis,” which is in fact a woman’s name.
It’s not far-fetched to believe that the barista may have thought Aishah was saying “Isis,” given that the two names could sound even more similar if the speaker wears a restrictive cloth over her mouth. However, the expected modern reaction is to automatically attribute racism or bias without any evidence to suggest such a motive because of its profitable results.