A black woman wearing a bikini-style top to an Alabama restaurant said she was harassed and embarrassed by a manager who told her she needed to cover up.
Aireal Bonner refused to put on a shirt given to her Friday by the manager at Birmingham’s Southern Kitchen & Bar, leading to the general manager asking her to leave.
In the video of the incident recorded by Bonner and posted to Facebook, a manager tells her that the restaurant’s dress code doesn’t have to be posted because the eatery is privately owned when Bonner asks where the dress code notice is placed.
Bonner refused to put on a t-shirt offered by another manager, after which she said she was told to leave and the manager threatened to call the police if she did not get off the premises.
“I was threatened with police action simply because I wanted to sit and eat in an outfit that I felt comfortable and happy in,” Bonner wrote in a Facebook post. “There was no customer complaint that prompted the situation. This was purely the way that the ‘owner’ chose to run his business.”
Bonner said she had doubts that her clothing was the only reason she was asked to leave.
“My clothing was an excuse to not have me dine there,” she told CBS 42. “I think the biggest issue with my appearance is that I look very Afro-centric. My hair is an Afro texture. The way that I dress is Afro-centric. So I believe that because they cannot directly say things like ‘We don’t like the color of your skin, we don’t like the way that your hair looks,” my clothing was just used as an excuse.”
While Bonner’s accusations are alarming, if true, we feel obligated to point out that it does not appear that Bonner was the only black woman at the establishment during the ordeal. As her video pans the place, others at the bar appear to also have dark skin, and Bonner is the only person being asked to leave.
Of course, Southern Kitchen & Bar has told a much different story regarding the encounter, reiterating that Bonner’s top was “not consistent with our appropriate attire policy” in a statement posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
The restaurant did offer an apology, however, saying the “attempt to follow company policy was ill-timed” since staff waited to confront Bonner until after she had sat down, rather than when she first entered the establishment.
“We regret interrupting Ms. Bonner’s dinner and understand that would make anyone feel uncomfortable,” the statement said, adding that it was “establishing more rigid protocols” in the implementation of its policy, including addressing any issues at the door. “We have done and will continue to do the work to ensure our restaurant is a place where all feel welcome,” the restaurant said.
Bonner, however, wasn’t impressed and refused to accept the apology. “The apparent ‘apology’ statement for the TIMING on when I was confronted about a nonexistent dress code is as I said before…LAUGHABLE,” Bonner wrote in response to the restaurant’s statement.
Instead of offering forgiveness, she asked people to bombard the business with negative reviews. It was apparently effective too, as the establishment’s Yelp page was taken down.
Watch the video below for more details:
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