Social media users show support for victim of coffee shop racism.


An outpouring of social media support has buoyed a Cairns cafe worker’s spirits after a customer refused to be served by her because of the colour of her skin.

Originally from South Sudan, Josie Ajak moved to Australia with her parents as an eight-year-old.

Since then she said she had rarely experienced overt racism.

“When we first came to Australia, in primary school and a bit in high school as well, I got the ‘Why are you here? Go back to where you came from’ line,” Ms Ajak said.

“But that was all left behind, I haven’t heard any of those kind of remarks for a while, and then this happened just a couple of days ago.”

During a busy period in the Cairns cafe where Ms Ajak works as a shift supervisor she took over the cash register, trying to get a growing queue on the move.

“This elderly woman approached the counter in a wheelchair and I greeted her as I would anyone else,” Ms Ajak said.

“She just looked at me and said ‘I refuse to be served by a black person, can you get me a white lady?’.”

Shocked and angered by the request, Ms Ajak asked the woman to move aside.

“A staff member beside me was looking at me wondering what was going on. I just looked back and said ‘this lady is racist and we won’t be serving her’,” Ms Ajak said.

“She was waiting — I guess for a white lady to come and serve her — for about five minutes and then she angrily rolled away in her wheelchair.”

When Ms Ajak told her friend Jade Arevalo about the incident she was so incensed she took to Facebook to vent her fury.

Since then the post has attracted hundreds of comments in support of Ms Ajak.

“It’s amazing seeing all this support from all these people I’ve never met, who don’t have any idea who I am but are still supporting me and standing behind me,” Ms Ajak said.

“I’d like to thank them because racism is a massive problem in the world … inside we’re all the same and I’m glad all those people posting agree with that.”

She said while the ordeal had been an unpleasant experience, it served to remind people what would and would not be tolerated.

“Today’s just another day at work, but it’s a little bit different because having this just happen means all the staff know that this kind of behaviour is not acceptable.

“Anyone who comes in and is racist or behaves like that will be escorted [out] — we won’t be serving them.”

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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