An inner city café in Sydney has copped a wave of online abuse for refusing to hire a black Brazilian barista.
The owner of Forbes and Burton café in Darlinghurst, who is known as ‘Steven’, told The Daily Mail he didn’t want to hire Nilson Dos Santos because he was black. Steven said he "only wanted locals" to apply for the job.
"There are a lot of white customers at the café and I think the clients here want local people, not African people," said Steven, who arrived from China this year, the Daily Mail reported.
"We need to offer good service at this café and I think the coffee culture is more about white people."
When news of this incident spread, social media users inundated the café’s Facebook page, denouncing the owner’s behaviour and vowing to boycott his cafe.
However Steven maintained he was just being honest.
"I don’t have race discrimination. And I am sorry but I was just being honest, in my opinion, I want to hire local people," he said.
The 39-year-old Brazilian man is a recent Australian citizen and has worked in Sydney as a barista for nine years.
When Dos Santos was told by Steven that "white" customers would not "want their coffee made by black people" he was shocked.
Dos Santos told the Daily Mail his inital response was to punch Steven for his remarks. Instead, he turned to the customers in the café and asked if they would be bothered if he, as a black man, worked there and made their coffee.
"I stood in the middle of the café and said, 'Excuse me, I don’t mean to bother everybody but I just asked for a job and he told me that I can’t because I’m black and shouldn’t make coffee for white people."
"Even though something awful had happened, all these beautiful people came beside me to give support and comfort me."
In a show of support, customers walked out of the café and one staff member quit in disgust, it reported,
Speaking to reporters today, Dos Santos teared up and said he felt hurt by what happened, and said he didn't feel respected as a person.
"He could have said something like, 'Look, I didn't realise, but I got someone already coming here. So the job is already [taken]... but that wasn't what he did. You hurt somebody very much. When you're looking for a job, you're already very sensitive and emotional. I wasn't angry. I was sad. I was deeply disappointed.
"I feel proud to be black in Australia. Everybody make me feel good about it," he told reporters today. "It's like, 'Oh, where do you come from? We love your accent. Can I touch your hair? I love your colour. You feel a real blessing to be here."
Dos Santos said he had never experienced discrimination like this before in Australia and was taken aback by the Steven’s comments.
"I have never experienced anything like that in Australia," he told The Daily Mail. "I love it here, I am free here, that’s why I chose to stay. I’ve always felt welcomed and accepted. For me, it was never a problem that I am black until today.
“I’m looking for a job as a barista so I rang him to organise an interview yesterday (Saturday) after I saw the ad on Gumtree.
"On the phone, he asked me where I am from and I told him I’m Brazillian."
When Dos Santos arrived for the job interview, he said the owner didn’t ask about his work experience, but only cared about the colour of his skin.
"When I came to the café for the interview today, he looked at me and looked surprised. He didn’t like what he saw," he told The Daily Mail.
"We sat down and he said, 'but you’re black?'
"I said 'yes' and he told me, 'but my customers are white. I don’t think they’d like to have their coffee made by black people. That’s not part of the coffee culture. You’re African.'
"I said to him, 'I’m sorry.' But he said I was not able to do the job because I am black."
Although he was enraged, Dos Santos said he needed to educate Steven for his remarks and blatant racism.
"I thought to myself, what do I do? I wanted to punch him but I thought that if I reacted badly, that wouldn’t be the right thing either.
"But I thought that if I just left and closed the door, he’ll do that over and over again to everybody else that comes. So I felt I had to do something, to show him that he needs to learn his lessons and that’s not the way to treat people.
Dos Santos said he was blown away by the outpouring of support he has received, but doesn’t wish any harm on the café owner.
"I thank very much for the support from everybody, but I don't want nothing bad to happen to him physically. Because violence generates violence," he told reporters today.
"What I want for us is for us to treat each other like a human being. Be kind to each other - that's all I want."