Are Southern conservatives taking aim at the Civil Rights Act now? It sure looks that way after a restaurant in South Carolina refused to serve a group of African-Americans who waited for two hours to get a table when a white customer demanded they be turned away.
The Wild Wings Café in Charleston, South Carolina is under fire after flat out refusing to serve a large group of black family members and friends who were in town to say goodbye to a cousin in July. A white customer demanded the restaurant to do so because she felt “threatened.”
According to WNEM Channel 5 in Charleston, Michael Brown stood up to the manager and asked her to clarify her actions, which she did as another member of the group filmed the confrontation.
“She said there’s a situation where one of our customers feels threatened by your party, so she asked us not to seat you in our section, which totally alarmed all of us because we’re sitting there peaceably for two hours,” Brown said. “Obviously, if we were causing any conflict, we would have been ejected out of the place hours before. I said so you’re telling me I have to leave. She said I have a right to deny you service. I said so you’re asking me to leave because you’re upset because he was recording you, after we’ve waited for two hours, and after you’ve already pretty much discriminated on us, and she answered yes.”
Brown has since made countless attempts to contact the corporate office of Wild Wings to file a complaint, to no avail. So he took the issue to Facebook.
“I will never go to Wild wings cafe in N. Chs again! We (Party of 25 family and friends) waited 2hrs, patiently and were refused service because another customer (White) felt threatened by us. This type of racial discrimination is unacceptable and we have to put a STOP TO IT. The manager looked me dead in the face and said she was refusing us service because she had a right to and simply she felt like it. DO NOT SUPPORT THIS ESTABLISHMENT… PLEASE SHARE THIS POST… We need your help.”
Brown’s post was relayed to the Wild Wings page where it finally caught their attention and generated a response.
Wild Wings Cafe chief marketing officer Debra Stokes says the corporate office has contacted Brown.
“We had a conversation,” says Stokes. “It was a really good conversation. He and many of his family and friends were there about a month ago, and they are regular customers of ours. So, they were having a going away party, and they just didn’t receive the experience that they have come to know and love.”
Brown even reports that the Charleston restaurant has apologized and offered him and his family a free meal, but the damage appears to be too much for Brown to forgive.
“We weren’t coming there for a free meal, Brown said. “When we came there that night, we were coming to patronize the business. This is not a situation where you can just give us a free meal and everything is ok because it’s deeper than that.”
Why is it deeper? Because this kind of racism should have been over with a long time ago. In 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act to prohibit restaurants and other businesses from discriminating against customers based on race. The Wild Wings Cafe in Charleston clearly violated the law, which brings up another question. Why did this restaurant comply with the demands of a single racist white customer? Brown and his group have frequented the establishment in the past so clearly there haven’t been problems before. But they refused to serve them anyway because they didn’t want to offend their one racist customer. So, it’s understandable that Brown and his family won’t accept a mere apology and a free meal. Instead of complying with the demands of a racist, the restaurant should have seated the group and banned the racist from the premises.
Hopefully, this is just a freak incident of stupidity that won’t happen again in the future, but if Southern conservatives ever wanted to challenge the Civil Rights Act, they have an opening. All they have to do is continue to defy the Civil Rights Act by refusing to do business with African-Americans until someone sues them. Then they can attempt to dismiss the suit by claiming that the Act is unconstitutional. It’s how Republicans managed to successfully gut the Voting Rights Act. They kept challenging the Justice Department rejection of voter suppression laws in court until the conservative-leaning Supreme Court did racists a favor and struck down a longstanding section of the Voting Right Act. It’s also how conservatives have been chipping away at affirmative action. It’s hypothetical, of course, but worth watching for.
For years, Southern conservatives have been dreaming of dismantling the Civil Rights Era legislation that put an end to Jim Crow. This latest apparent act of racism occurred in South Carolina, the state that has been ground zero for segregation and racist laws since the Civil War. A Confederate flag still flies on the grounds outside the state house. It’s definitely not a stretch to think that conservatives could get a section of the Civil Rights Act struck down, and now that they have control of the Supreme Court, you have to wonder if the landmark legislation is going to be targeted at some point in the future.