The list of things that Black people can’t do without being hassled by white authority figures just keep growing and growing. And now we can add #ProposingWhileBlack to the list.
Cathy-Marie Hamlet and her fiancé Clyde Jackson were simply hoping to spend a lovely day celebrating Jackson’s birthday at the Angry Orchard farm, in Walden, New York. But unbeknownst to Hamlet, Jackson was planning to propose to her, TheRoot reports. It was meant to be a joyous occasion, but some overzealous (and possibly racial-profiling) white security guards made sure it was anything but.
A frustrated Hamlet took to Facebook and explained that almost as soon as they arrived at the farm, she and Jackson sat at a table near the gift shop. That’s when a female security guard walked over to Jackson and alleged he stole a T-shirt. The next thing the couple knew, this guard asked to check his back pocket.
The situation went south from there, NBC News reports.
So…I got engaged today! But we’ll get to that part later. Let me set the stage…This weekend was my fiancé’s 40th…
Now, Jackson had every right to tell the security guard where to go (politely or otherwise), but he obliged instead.
“My boyfriend emptied all of his pockets, while still trying to keep the ring box hidden from my sight,” she said. “She then walked away, and my boyfriend and I sat down at the table and he began his proposal speech.”
But the security guard wasn’t done with the couple.
“She came back over to us and said, ‘Now I need to search your purse,'” Hamlet said. “My bag was small and I couldn’t have fit a T-shirt in it, but I emptied the contents of my purse anyway.”
At this point, Hamlet began to wonder what was really going on. So she asked the guard what her motives were.
“I told her I knew she was just doing her job, but I couldn’t help but wonder if she kept coming up to us because we’re black,” Hamlet said. “We were the only black people there, besides three of the friends who came along with us.”
The guard denied that she was questioning the couple because they were black. You might think the guard realized she was barking up the wrong tree. And you’d be right.
Unbelievably, the guard came back a third time, right after Hamlet accepted Jackson’s proposal and the couple’s friends gathered around them to share their joy. Now the guard wanted to inspect everyone’s belongings. Incredible.
“She said, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were all part of the same party. I have to check all of your purses and pockets,” Hamlet said. “At this point, five other security guards came over.”
So now, because of these rude guards, a situation that was supposed to be happy was now completely stressful.
“I felt humiliated, especially after one of my white friends made a point of asking them to check her bag for the T-shirt, but they refused to do so,” Hamlet said.
Then one of the guards told another to call the police, and Hamlet and her guests decided it was time to leave.
“It started to get confrontational and I wasn’t interested in waiting because we didn’t know what would happen,” Hamlet told NBC News.
The guards even took photos of of the group and of Hamlet’s license plate as everyone left.
Jessica Paar, director of communications for the Boston Beer Company, which owns Angry Orchard, said: “she was extremely embarrassed this happened.” In a statement to The Huffington Post, she said the guards confronted the couple “based on what we thought at the time was credible information provided by another guest.”
“We reached out and spoke directly with the guest involved to express our sincerest apology and offered to make it right,” Paar said. “We badly mishandled the situation and our team overreacted.”
Now there’s the understatement of the year.
The manager who was on duty at the time has been fired, and the guards are being replaced. Paar added that all employees will be undergoing training “in the areas of security awareness and unconscious bias to prevent something like this from happening in the future.”
But a lot of damage was done here, and Hamlet was tearful as she left, she noted in her Facebook post, where she also addressed Angry Orchard directly.
“If you don’t want black people buying your product or frequenting your establishment, then maybe put a sign on the door so that we know we are not welcome,” she wrote. “I love hard cider, but Angry Orchard will never touch these lips again.”
And Hamlet added she’s having a difficult time processing what happened.
“I feel confused and conflicted over what to do now and how to move forward, that one of the happiest moments of my life could be partially overshadowed like this,” she said. “It’s sad that in 2019 we still have to have these conversations.”
One has to wonder if these guards were inspired by their racist president, Donald Trump, or if they’re just stupid. Maybe they are both?
Featured photo courtesy of NBC News