It was a rough weekend for the nation’s largest hard cider manufacturer, as Boston Beer Co.’s Angry Orchard found itself the center of focus in a social media firestorm. The popular cider producer from the makers of Samuel Adams beers was accused at length of racial profiling and discrimination by a guest, who alleged she and her group of friends were all accused of theft, solely because they were the only black guests at the establishment. Making everything about a thousand times worse? She was in the middle of being proposed to at the time. Yeah, not hard to see how she’d be a little peeved about THAT. You can read the full, initial story from the guest below. The photo you see? It’s the security staff of the Angry Orchard facility in Walden, NY, mocking the newly engaged couple and waving goodbye to them as they exited.
After Marie Cleone’s post on Facebook, it didn’t take long for the story to break big on Twitter. When a friend of the couple posted the following, the post took off to such a degree that it eventually forced a response from Angry Orchard.
Angry Orchard’s response is here—not a direct apology, but a claim at least that an apology has been made to Cleone and her friends.
As so many commenters immediately noted after Angry Orchard’s post, though, is “additional training” ever really enough to prevent these kinds of incidents? Is actually firing the employees who demonstrate racial profiling really so out of the question, if their behavior “doesn’t reflect our values”? What better way would there be to demonstrate that you don’t approve of this behavior than actually letting go of the all-white security team, rather than protecting them and promising to somehow mitigate their racism in the future?
You can’t slap a Band-Aid on racism, folks. We’re glad the brand has apologized to the couple whose engagement they ruined, but there’s clearly a whole lot more work to be done.
UPDATE: Well, well, it would seem that the outcry from the internet did indeed motivate Boston Beer Co. to take some additional action on this one. According to today’s statement, posted to the main brand Twitter account, the brand says it has also “replaced the security team members working that day, and the manager who was on duty.” Given that these types of actual consequences are typically the exception to the rule in these stories, we’ll commend Boston Beer Co. for taking concrete action in addressing this situation.