Three weeks ago, 19 year old Red Lobster waitress Toni Christina Jenkins was working a regular shift in Nashville, Tennessee. Christina (as she prefers to be called) got a receipt with the words “None N*gger” in lieu of a tip. Then Red Lobster suspended her with pay for posting said receipt online in violation of company policy. Both stories brought forth a torrent of outrage on Christina’s behalf and rightly so. Red Lobster, wisely, dropped the issue. Partly because it would have been a public relations nightmare but also because their employee had been cruelly insulted so why bust her chops over it?
Just another day, just another racist slur in America?
We here at Addicting Info see far too much of this kind of mindless hate and our bossman, Matthew Hanson, thought it might be nice to see if we could get Christina the tip she was denied while sending a big “Screw You!” to the kind of lowlifes that find this sort racist slur funny. In the first 12 hours, we hit our goal and raised $1,000. So we upped the goal to $5,000, and raised that in another 12 hours. We decided to raise it, one last time, to $10,000 and we hit that within 72 hours, even though the fundraiser had been scheduled to last 30 days. We could have kept going but we were concerned that Christina would get slammed with a huge tax bill (among other assorted problems) so we stopped at $10,719 dollars. Christina had no idea this was being done and when she was notified her reaction was:
I almost choked…I was like “wait that’s for me? Like to have?” Lol. I was stunned. But most of all I was touched. I had shed a lot of tears from the criticism and hate I was getting and it was a breath of fresh air to know that people were supporting me and actually cared enough to give to me when they didn’t even know me.
In an email exchange Christina said the results of the fundraiser didn’t make the racist slur any less hurtful but “What it did do was change my perspective on most people. Before I assumed most people wouldn’t care or think this was a big deal because it happens everyday all over the world. I just figured this would be another instance of racism and nothing would come of it, however the love and support I have received from strangers has shown me that most people do truly care about others and are just seeking an opportunity to give into someone else’s situation or current circumstance. It showed me the true unity that can exist when people come together.”
When asked if she was surprised at the massive amount of attention her original post had received, she said:
Oh my gosh yes!!!! Like I had released before when I took the picture initially I didn’t post it, I just wanted to show my parents. Well when I did my mom told me “you need to do something about this, don’t just sit back”….being 19 I was like “ok…”. Didn’t really know what to do so I put it in Facebook for my friends to see. I thought I’d get a few likes and some comments, and that was it. I had no clue the next morning it was going to be viral or the top ten searched on Google. I was like what?! My phone wouldn’t stop ringing, my dad had been contacted in California where he lives, my grandparents were contacted I was like “what the heck is happening”. Didn’t expect anything from it. Totally surprised.
Christina is a deeply religious woman and while she plans to use the bulk of the money to buy a car to travel to work, school and the community service programs she belongs to, she also plans to pay it forward. “I have a list of people I want to bless too,” She said, “because I truly believe I am blessed to bless others and there is always more given unto those who give.”
Clearly, Christina has a sense of pride and dignity lacking in the person that wrote the racist slur in the first place as well as in her detractors.
“ You don’t know how I was raised.” – Christina Jenkins
There’s a vocal minority that insist the whole thing was a hoax. I’ll let Christina answer her critics:
…to the people who believe it to be a hoax: you don’t know me, and you don’t know how I was raised. I could never do something so hateful or hurtful and preposterous. You can believe what you want but when it comes down to it, you are entitled to your opinion and there’s nothing I can do about that. God bless you.
She took a softer tone with Devin Barnes, the young man whose name is on the receipt. He denies that he wrote the racist slur but, regardless, Christina still had kind words for him:
To Devin Barnes: first I want to say sorry for any hate you received or any scrutiny that you endured. My intentions where never to have you attacked or looked down upon. Some of the comments I received from my supporters regarding you were so hurtful so I can only imagine the ones you had to deal with. I hope you can understand that my heart is genuine in my apology and that God touches your heart to accept my apology. When I posted that picture my intentions where to get a few likes and a few comments (50-100 comments is what I expected). That was all. And I posted it in audacity of the situation and to show that racism was still out there, not because I was angry, hurt, wanted revenge, or wanted any disdain towards you. In complete honesty I had NO CLUE your name was printed on the receipt. I knew your signature was on it but I couldn’t read it so I didn’t pay attention to it. When a friend pointed out that your name was clearly printed on there I immediately regretted putting the picture up there. Still at that moment I didn’t think anything would come of the situation because racism happens everyday and i was just another victim..I didn’t take it personal or anything. I want you to know being the person I am I hold no grudge. If I ever saw you in public I would most definitely notice you and if you wouldn’t be completely freaked out by it, I would hug you. I know we both went through a rough patch in dealing with the whole situation so I have sympathy for you. As a Christian, my God calls me to love people and that’s what I do. The night I received that receipt I wasn’t angry, I didn’t hate you, and I still don’t. I wish you the best of blessings in your future and I want to thank you for the impact you’ve had on my life. Through this experience I have learned that no matter the situation no matter the circumstance, unity and love is what matters and it will conquer all.
Christian Toni Jenkins is a far nicer person than I am.
She had once last thing to say to the thousands of complete strangers that leapt at the chance to show the bigots of the world that compassion and tolerance are stronger than their hate:
Words can’t explain how grateful I am. And I know that God will greatly bless you for blessing me. I appreciate all the kind words and know that the money will be used wisely. I never would’ve imagined being blessed by strangers on such a colossal level. You all are saints and I love you from the bottom of my heart.
So say we all.