Oregon Bakery Fires Employees For Denying Black Woman Service After Closing
Two employees of a bakery in Portland, Oregon were fired earlier this month for denying a black woman service because the business had closed.
"Back To Eden Bakery" released several public apologies and statements following the incident, before letting the employees go. In one Facebook post, the bakery's co-owner wrote, "We are doing business in a gentrified neighborhood in a racist city within a racist state of a racist country.”
In one statement, "Back To Eden Bakery" says that according to its own surveillance video, a black woman named "Lillian", who is well known in the area as a "professional equity activist", entered at 9:06 p.m., after the bakery's closing time. Employees had also turned off the "Open" sign, but several customers (all white) who had already ordered were still inside. Two other white women who went to the bakery two minutes before "Lillian", and were also informed that the business was closed for the night.
The bakery says "Lillian" left the store briefly and began recording video.
The bakery's statement says that even though it does not consider the employees to be racist and that they were following the business's protocol of closing at 9 p.m., they were fired because "sometimes impact outweighs intent." The bakery also says in the statement that the way the employees went about denying the woman service, "lacked sensitivity and understanding of the racial implications at work."
In the statement "Back To Eden" says the employees were fired because the woman and the "clamoring public" demanded they be fired.
In one statement, the bakery admitted that the employees did not necessarily do anything wrong, "this is more about how a black woman was made to feel" at the business.
That statements have since been deleted.
The bakery has also volunteered to participate in Portland's second "Reparations Happy Hour", a black-only event in which whites donate money, and the hosting business hands out $10 bills to all "black, brown, and minority ethnicities" who walk into the business.
Lillian Green is a self-described native Portlander and a lifelong learner who is eager to be part of the incredible work on equity in Oregon’s newly emerging Early Learning System. She recently joined the Early Learning Division (ELD) as the new Equity Director.
In the first part of her career she worked in the classroom with middle-school and high-school age students teaching English, as well as introducing racial equity work into different schools in the Portland Public School District. She then transitioned out of the classroom as an interim professor at Warner Pacific College to work with undergraduate and graduate students as they worked to earn their degrees.
“I first earned my bachelor’s in English and Sociology and then went on to earn my Master’s in Teaching in Education,” she told me. Lillian is currently a graduate student in the Educational Leadership program at Lewis and Clark college .
Prior to joining the ELD, Lillian was working within the Portland Public School District in the Equity Department as a teacher on special assignment before transitioning into the Equity Director position in the ELD. During that time, she worked with twelve specifically targeted schools within the district around building capacity for equity work which included customized staff trainings and data system development. Lillian is excited to begin her collaborative work with the ELD.
What first enticed you about working in the Early Learning Division?
I became really intrigued with the work that the Early Learning Division was doing around equity work. That includes the thinking behind how to build a large capacity of programs for children in the state of Oregon their intentionality around the inclusion of equity work in every step of the way – it sounded really exciting. I had the opportunity to read the Equity Subcommittee Report and it laid out basic foundational pieces that I haven’t seen anywhere else. I was very intrigued by that. Megan’s vision for the Division really inspired me as well.
What do you appreciate most about Early Learning?
Early Learning lays out the foundation for children, especially as they get ready to enter the K-12 system. At that age the social, emotional, and academic needs are crucial to meet for children and families. Without that strong foundation, we aren’t adequately serving our kids in Oregon. As we’re looking at our data in Oregon, we can see that the historically underserved populations don’t have as much access to those services and resources – I feel like that is the task that the ELD is taking on. We’re working to figure out how we solve that problem and interrupt the systems that have historically underserved communities across our state that cuts across multiple sectors.
What are you most looking forward to in your new position?
I’m really looking forward to getting to know everyone. A big component of my work is the development of relationships and figuring out how I can support those around me. I like to get to know who I’m working with so that our work together can be as effective as possible. I’m looking forward to getting to know people and forge relationships with our staff, partners, providers, and families. I feel that we can’t do this work well if we are far detached from those who we are serving. I’m super excited to get out in the field to meet as many partners, providers, and staff as possible.
If you and I were sitting here one year from today, what would you have hoped to achieve in the Division by that time?
I will want to have our Early Learning Division strategic plan flushed out as much as possible as we gear up for implementation. I want to help ensure that we’re being collaborative in that process and evaluate our progress in the breakthrough teams. I hope to engage all stakeholders with the Mixed-Delivery Preschool model including identifying the Hubs that we will be working with on that particular initiative.
Who is one of your role models or someone who has influenced your work? And why?
Honestly, my parents are my role models. I’m the youngest girl of ten children and they both really instilled a work ethic and a love for education in all of us. My mother was a kindergarten teacher and my father was a campus security guard. He took it upon himself to really engage with the students on campus. My mom would always post inspiration sayings and pictures in our rooms and one of my favorites that she left for me was a picture that said, ‘If you do not stand for something. You’ll fall for anything.’ I take that philosophy with me everywhere I go.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’m super excited to meet everyone in the Division as well as our partners. I’m really excited to engage in conversations concerning equity and how that impacts our current practices. I’m also looking forward to conversations about how we can serve historically underserved and underrepresented populations to ensure that parents and children have access to quality services regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation – and that our early learning environments are a place where children themselves feel safe, love and respected, and feel that their culture is loved and respected as well. \
I believe that every child in the world should have access to quality education. That includes the K-12 system and the care prior to that time in Early Learning environments. It’s our responsibility to provide that and to ensure that those who don’t have access now will have access soon. That is a right, and not just for those who can afford it.