Who is Bryce Ward? Starbucks apologizes to Black customer singled out to leave San Jose store for Covid protocol
The store's manager said that they were at max capacity according to Covid-19 restrictions, but Ward, the only Black customer, saw several people come in and leave while he was there
SAN FRANCISCO: Bryce Ward, a San Francisco barber, took to Instagram to share details about the racist treatment he received at Starbucks. After his post went viral, the beverage giant has issued an apology.
Ward had uploaded a video recounting his experience at a San Jose Starbucks location, in which he claims that he was singled out by an employee because of his race. Captioning the 7.35 minute-long video 'Starbucks discrimination!!!', Ward shared his entire ordeal, looking angry and frustrated about what he had faced.
What happened that day?
"It's sad and unfortunate how real discrimination still is," Ward is seen saying in the video.
Recounting the incident, Ward says that when he entered the Starbucks location on March 15, 2021, the cashier politely asked him to wait outside the store, as they were at full capacity as per Santa Clara County's Covid restrictions.
Ward said he was okay to do so, but as he walked towards the exit, two women walked out of the store. He then said, "My common sense is telling me you guys aren't at capacity anymore," Then he stayed at the store.
About two minutes later, Ward recalls the manager asking him to step outside. He declined to do so now as he believed they were no longer at max capacity. At this point in the video, Ward claims that one of the other workers inside the cafe told him he could stay inside.
In the next few minutes, multiple people had entered and exited the premises, including people picking up their mobile orders, he says in the video. The manager once again requested that Ward leave the store. This is when Ward alleged that he was being singled out. "You see all this traffic coming in and out and you didn't say anything to anybody else? Why are you singling me out?" he asked the manager.
"I'm not saying it was a racial issue, it just so happens that I was the only Black person in the store," Ward said, sarcastically.
Starbucks apologized to Ward
Starbucks has issued an apology to Ward in the wake of backlash surrounding the incident. "We have no tolerance for discrimination of any kind in our stores and we never want a customer to feel discriminated against," a spokesperson for the mega coffee chain told the news outlet.
"We apologize to Mr Ward for his experience and have retrained staff on how to respectfully navigate capacity limits to protect the health and safety of partners and customers."
A Starbucks spokesperson reportedly also said that the "company does not have video available of the incident" despite having CCTV cameras at the store. In a tweet, when responding to someone, Ward wrote that Starbucks might be apologizing now, but it is "not enough".
"They’re apologizing. Not Enough," he tweeted. He added that the situation was "extremely frustrating" and that he is positive that it will get more traction.
They’re apologizing. Not Enough— Bryce Ward (@thebrycedupree) March 24, 2021
Even Ward's followers aren't all that satisfied with Starbucks' apology. "They say the same thing all the time but do nothing about it..." one user commented on his Instagram post. "Get on their line! This is nothing new for Starbucks. They keep having this same 'training', yet the same issues 🤔 sorry that happen cuz you’re a very calm and chill guy," another user said. "Has to stop somewhere," said another tweet.
Starbucks has been in similar controversies before this. Two Black men were arrested for refusing to leave a Philadelphia store in 2018. They had requested to use the washroom but were denied because they didn't make a purchase.
Who is Bryce Ward?
According to his Instagram page, Ward is a barber, photographer and videographer. His professional website brycethabarber.com describes him as a licensed "confident" professional who is "reliable, dependable, efficient".
Ward writes: "Hello and welcome. You are now in the hands of Bryce, a licensed, professional barber, who is a dedicated master of his craft" He adds that he is "a specialist in all textures and grades of hair" who can "accentuate your swag."