Speak Up: Responding to Everyday Bigotry

What Can I Do About Biased Customer Service?

'I Just Stood Next To Him'

In Washington state, a white woman is in a doctor's waiting room when she notices a Russian-speaking immigrant being treated poorly by the receptionist at the front counter. The woman stands up and joins the man at the counter: "I just stood next to him and wouldn't leave until the receptionist finally helped him."

An African American man in the grocery store notices a cashier treating a non-English-speaking woman badly. After checking to see if the woman wants help, the man confronts the manager: "These people live in our community, this person spends money in your store, and your store has a responsibility to be part of this community."

A Colorado woman uses a wheelchair. She is boarding a plane with her husband when the flight attendant says, to the husband, "Will she need help being seated?"

Speak for yourself. If you're the target of rude customer service, let the person know: "I deserve to be treated with respect in an establishment where I spend money." Or, "Please ask me, not my husband, what I need."

Make eye contact. Look at other people witnessing this exchange. Use body language to appeal for their assistance and support.

Step up. Don't allow someone to be mistreated when you have the power to help. Don't stick solely to "your" issues. Speak up against bigotry wherever it happens, whoever is involved. As the man in the grocery store said, "Your problem is my problem. We're in this together."