Experiencing racism is the ugly reality for millions of non-white Americans. Consequently, many are subject to racist abuse on a day-to-day basis. What this one little girl did, however, might mean hope for the future.
One day in February 2017, Danee Masarang went with her daughter Autumn to their local KFC in White Center, Washington. But what was supposed to be a pleasant meal turned into a distasteful scene. And for eight-year-old Autumn, it was a significant moment in her young life.
That’s because when the Masarangs arrived at the fast-food outlet, it was just in time to directly witness some racism in action. In this case, it was a customer “singling out” one of the chefs behind the counter. The customer was apparently unhappy that a black person was handling their food order.
Indeed, the customer in question hadn’t held back in his vile diatribe. According to young Autumn, she was told the person in question had said, “I don’t want any black man touching my food, so you have to re-cook it.” Naturally, most parents would want to shield their children from these kinds of negative attitudes.
Both Danee and Autumn saw that the worker was still feeling upset from the nasty exchange. The KFC employee in question, Alvin Dean, had obviously been having a bad day. As a result, what happened next clearly overwhelmed him.
Danee saw an opportunity to teach her daughter a valuable lesson about their encounter with such racism. Consequently, she put a post up on Facebook retelling the story they had just heard at the KFC. Furthermore, she explained that the incident had upset its victim, Alvin Dean.
Danee explained, “It just needs to be heard that this is just not tolerable. Somebody was hurting, so what could I do to help that person?” The Facebook post spread quickly among her contacts and friends.
As a result, the post reached a teacher friend working at a local Christian school. Jana Ablin taught art, and the post gave her a great idea. She would have her students make cards for Dean.
Furthermore, Ablin decided to produce a piece of work herself as well. It was a gorgeous artistic drawing of Martin Luther King Jr. in front of a colorful backdrop. Combined with all the students’ cards, it was an incredible gesture.
As well as Autumn, Ablin’s daughter Serena also made a card for Dean. In spite of not having been present during the verbal attack, her card was very touching. It read, “I’m sorry that happened” and “God Loves You.”
Furthermore, little Serena told local journalists that she’d only known racism through history books. White people are often sheltered from the reality of racism, since they rarely experience it themselves. As a result, children like Serena and Autumn may feel shocked to see it happen in real life.
Serena explained that she knew the historic story about Rosa Parks, having to sit “on the back of the bus.” However, to her, it seemed like it was just a story. She couldn’t understand why someone would abuse Dean, saying, “that was a long time ago and people still do that. That’s really silly.”
Jana and Danee took some of the children with them when they visited Dean again. Regardless of the setting in a KFC, it was clear that the cards meant a lot to him. Although news cameras weren’t allowed inside, Dean could be seen brushing tears away.
The man himself gave an interview to KING5 in February 2017, admitting the gesture had been very touching. Dean said, “They came at me with all these gifts. I got very emotional, especially because it was a person that was outside my race.”
The importance of the moment wasn’t lost on little Autumn. Following the gift-giving, she walked back to the car with her mother, stopping only to say one thing to KING5. “It was really great,” she commented.
Unfortunately, the story didn’t end with that heartwarming moment. Subsequently, Dean was allegedly racially abused by his own managers. As a result, he had to hire lawyers to help him pursue a lawsuit against the franchise.
According to Dean, his manager had insisted he stay in the kitchen and not stand at the counter. Furthermore, the manager did not tell Dean about the visit from the girls bringing cards. In the event, meeting the girls happened almost by accident.
Dean was only at the front of the restaurant to go to the restroom when he met the girls. As a result, he claimed the manager chided him and her husband, also a co-worker, confronted him with racial slurs and even attempted to hit him. With this in mind, Dean’s decision to pursue legal action seems justified.
However, the KFC district manager contradicted Dean’s claims, stating, “This is an unfortunate misunderstanding.” She said that Dean wasn’t even the person who had been racially abused in the first place. Obviously, that was why he was being asked to stay in the kitchen.
However, even if this explanation is true, it does not offer any apology for the way Dean was allegedly treated afterwards. Despite nice gestures like the one made by the girls and the art class, racism is still a serious problem. As can be seen in the case of Alvin Dean, sometimes there’s no simple solution.