Features, Long Read, Politics

At this Portland Bakery, White Guilt Poisons the Batter

The menu at the Back to Eden Bakery in Portland, Ore. features vegan and gluten-free ice cream, cookies and cupcakes, but it might as well itemize its impeccable intersectional credentials. Before hungry customers even set foot in the small shop in north Portland, they are confronted with a battery of progressive signs on a storefront reminiscent of a college equity office. “Safe space,” one of them proudly declares. “Black Lives Matter,” another reminds us. In the name of inclusivity, others carefully list all the different types of identity that are welcome. The bakery is owned by John Blomgren and Garrett Jones, a queer-identified couple. Since their business first opened its doors in 2009 and subsequently expanded, it has unsurprisingly found commercial success among Portland’s (in)famously progressive population.

Last month, however, the business’s overzealous politics cost two young employees their jobs at the Alberta Street location after a local activist released a video complaining that she had been denied service for being black. In the wake of the Starbucks scandal in Philadelphia, in which two black men were arrested after refusing a buy-or-leave request from staff, the bakery owners summarily fired their two female staffers in the hope that doing so would appease the gathering social justice mob. The panic provoked by accusations of racism led the bakery’s management to issue a series of contradictory and clumsy statements. From the shadows, power-hungry community activists readied their arrows.

I first reported this story in late May on my Twitter account, where I documented the statements issued by the bakery and the local activist, even as they were being deleted in real-time.

The bakery has since hired a consulting firm as it struggles to regain control of the narrative. Strategically repositioning themselves as the victims of a “full assault by the alt-right” (a claim for which no evidence has been offered), the bakery is now preparing to deliver its staff into the hands of professional equity educators to retrain them in diversity and inclusion.

So what on earth is going on here? In short, a small network of agit-activists, diversity educators, and sycophantic progressive white allies are trampling over the lives of innocent individuals in pursuit of an equitable power redistribution with them at the top. 

Closing Time

Lillian Green says she was a victim of racism at the Back to Eden Bakery in a video shared on social media. Photo: Facebook (screenshot)

At 9:06 p.m. on May 10, Lillian Green, an equity director in the early learning division at the Oregon Department of Education, walked into the Back to Eden Bakery. The dessert shop closed at 9 p.m. and staff had already informed the six remaining customers of the last call to order (the bakery has since changed its closing time to 10 p.m.). The ‘open’ sign had been turned off but the door remained unlocked per the fire marshal’s code since there were still patrons on the premises. Only two employees were working at the time. One of them was ‘Lisa’ (not her real name), a 26 year-old from rural Idaho who moved to Portland last year to start life afresh in the City of Roses. She had been working at the bakery for about ten months. Her colleague was a new hiree on her third day of work, who was still being trained.

When Lillian Green entered, the assistant manager-in-training informed her the bakery was now closed and that those people already in line would be the last customers for the night. Lisa was preoccupied with preparing the evening’s final orders but recalls seeing Green briefly before she left. After a full day’s shift, Lisa still had to clean up and show her new colleague all the steps involved in closing up. “We didn’t think much of it.” Lisa said. “[Staff] had cut off the line many times before after closing.”

But Green was affronted, and once she stepped out of the bakery, she immediately began recording a video to register her indignation. “Two white women is in front of me and [the bakery] said like, ‘Oh, we’re sorry, we’re only serving them,’” she said. “So, I’m gonna put this on Facebook and I’m gonna blast their ass.” Later that night, she recorded a second video complaining about the neighborhood’s gentrification and announced she had been denied service for being black. “If you choose to not serve this black cisgender woman in your establishment,” she said, “then you’re choosing to not serve my community.” She demanded that those responsible for this injustice be fired immediately. Within hours, both Lisa and the new hiree were dismissed.

Lillian Green is a Ph.D. student in education and counseling at Lewis & Clark College. As a result of her work in equity training for the state, she is well connected to Portland’s thriving social justice scene. Her videos, shared under the hashtag #LivingWhileBlack, were rapidly disseminated by friends and other agitators who began demanding action from the bakery. The next morning, John Blomgren, the bakery’s co-owner, issued a grovelling public apology to Green from his business’s Facebook page. His open letter was replete with self-abasing expressions of guilt and sugar coated with intersectional nonsense. “Back to Eden Bakery is 100% committed to being a welcoming and supportive environment for all customers who share our values of inclusivity and dismantling the white supremacist hetero-patriarchy,” he pleaded. He readily conceded that his employees had shown “poor customer service.”

Lisa recalls: “I got a text that I needed to come in for a meeting, and when I arrived, they asked if I had been on Facebook.” Blomgren and her manager went on to summarize what was happening online. Activists of color and their white allies were demanding the employees be fired. Some were also demanding the bakery financially compensate Green. Lisa was shocked by Green’s accusations, and says she found it difficult to understand how an innocuous closing could be construed as a racist personal attack. “It was so innocent.” When she was told that she and her colleague had been fired, she broke into tears.

At the time, no clear policy had been established for clearing the shop of customers at closing time. “They said they knew we didn’t mean anything by what we did, and that it was something we did almost nightly,” Lisa recalls, “but with everything that was happening, [they said] the only way to make things right was to let both of us go.” She says the management offered to give her a “glowing recommendation” to cheer her up. It didn’t work. The bakery refused to support and defend its own staff when it mattered, she says.

The Fallout

Back to Eden’s first public apology was met with derision, not from the alt-right but rather from the social justice activists it was designed to appease. They slammed the bakery for appearing to be defensive and generally not doing more to address the white supremacy in the business. Some even told the bakery to hire Green herself to provide its staff with equity training. Later that day, Blomgren issued a second and much longer apology after taking advice from a local black equity activist named Cameron Whitten (about whom, more in a moment).

Blomgren’s updated 3,000 word apology reaffirmed his commitment to intersectional dogma and apologized profusely again to Green. But this time he included a minute-by-minute timeline of the incident, gleaned from a careful examination of the shop’s security camera footage. Blomgren’s chronology matches and corroborates Lisa’s version of events. However, having established that his staff had done nothing wrong did not alter Blomgren’s decision to fire them. “In this situation it doesn’t really matter that the two staff members working are not themselves racist because the call they made to deny Lillian service caused her to feel like she had been discriminated against,” his statement explained. “Sometimes impact outweighs intent and when that happens people do need to be held accountable. Since both Lillian and the clamoring public were demanding that these staff members be fired that it is what we did putting these two young women out of work.” The bakery has since deleted this statement and denies firing the employees to “save face or to appease anyone.” They now insist the women were fired for their “poor customer service decision” and its “racial implications.”

Back to Eden Bakery co-owner John Blomgren denies firing the employees to “save face or appease anyone,” contradicting an earlier statement. Photo: Yelp

The bakery’s longer, self-degrading message was generally better received by commenters, but some still criticized it for sounding mildly defensive. Over the next three weeks or so, the story faded as the bakery posted images of their desserts, bumping their earlier statements out of sight and out of mind. Lisa opted to keep quiet. She told me she feared that speaking in her own defense would only be interpreted as another attack on racial equity. Even today, she is afraid of being identified and only agreed to speak to me on condition of anonymity. As a newcomer to Portland, Lisa assumed that this incident was a freak occurrence. She was surprised to discover that it’s actually part of an emerging trend.

In 2016, Sally Krantz opened Saffron Colonial in north Portland, a restaurant featuring historical recipes from the British Empire. Krantz might have hoped she’d be celebrated as a female entrepreneur and chef but instead she found herself confronted by furious activists accusing her of racism and glorifying colonialism. Mobs of demonstrators gathered outside her restaurant, and detractors swamped its Yelp page with one-star reviews and abuse. Food suppliers refused to do business with her, and eventually Krantz surrendered and changed the restaurant’s name after weeks of unabated pressure. “I’m a single mother with four kids to support, so closing was not an option,” she told me during a recent visit. “The name Saffron Colonial had nothing to do with promoting imperialist ideology or advocating slavery.”

The following spring, Kali Wilgus and Liz Connelly were accused of culturally appropriating—that is, stealing—Mexican culture by selling burritos from their new food cart. After receiving death threats and sustained protest, they shut down their business, deleted their social media accounts, and went into hiding. Shortly afterwards, an anonymous Google ‘whisper network’ spreadsheet began circulating, warning readers about white-owned restaurants that appropriated ethnic cuisine. For the racially conscious patron, the document listed alternative restaurants owned by non-whites.

The Race Hustler

In my time documenting progressive outrage culture on university campuses and in daily life, I’ve found that calls to action—and the protests that follow them—are seldom organic or spontaneous occurrences. They are usually the work of professional agitators and activists who set the agenda and lead the way. Using “call-out” tactics as an instrument of public humiliation, they shame their targets and sometimes seek to benefit socially and financially from the controversy they hope to ignite. The events at the Back to Eden Bakery are a valuable case study.

Cameron Whitten is a failed 2012 Portland mayoral candidate who has since made a name for himself as a local social justice star. His publicity-seeking stunts—going on a hunger strike outside city hall or demanding reparations from whites—have earned him glowing praise in media profiles. To no one’s surprise, he looks up to writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. More recently, he’s become a full-time activist and equity consultant after being fired from his position with the city of Portland (he accuses his former employer of harboring anti-black racism).

Cameron Whitten is a Portland-based social justice activist and equity consultant. Photo: Michael Cary Arellano

After the scandal at the Back to Eden Bakery erupted last month, Whitten was not slow to offer his guidance and expertise to the embattled establishment. As a storm of insatiable outrage engulfed the bakery online, Blomgren frequently sought step-by-step advice from Whitten about how to deal with the fallout. When I asked him directly if he had recommended the firings or if he was involved with the bakery’s decision to hire equity educators, he declined to comment. However, Whitten’s relationship with the bakery has been fraught from the beginning, and he has frequently criticized its management in public for a perceived failure to address its own latent white supremacy. Their relationship came to an abrupt end last week after the bakery decided not to hire Whitten as one of its equity consultants or to publish a statement he had written on behalf of the business. Whitten refused to share the text of the statement with me, but a source claims it heavily promoted his name and organization.

Whitten was also furious that a white man had been employed as the bakery’s PR specialist. He withdrew plans to host an upcoming ‘Reparations Happy Hour’ event at the bakery in protest. “This is the unfortunate danger of working with white people,” Whitten complained during a 48-minute tirade live streamed to his nearly 5,000 Facebook followers on June 2. The video is both fascinating and appalling, and reveals a working relationship hopelessly compromised by his attempts to exploit and manipulate. The hapless Blomgren is denounced as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” for being white, for refusing to obey Whitten or compensate him for his labor. “They have a track record of disrespecting and not listening to black folks they think they are being inclusive of,” Whitten grumbles in the video. “All white people are racist,” he adds, presumably concerned that he had not made this sufficiently clear.

During the broadcast, John Blomgren’s sister, Rachel Kentner, defended her brother in the comments section. “You don’t know John,” she objected. “You are so far off from teaching about unity and what you’re doing is divisive to an already fractured country.” In response, Whitten mocked her “white fragility” and stated that, “This is not about who John is. This is about the rampant anti-blackness in my city that you don’t know about and you’re complicit in, so I don’t care about the intentions.”

I spoke with Rachel Kentner, who was keen to clarify that she was not speaking on behalf of the bakery or her brother. “After it was all said and done, [Whitten] asked me in a deleted post of his to donate to his cause, which I did, but instead of thanking me, he reported me to White Nonsense Roundup,” a Facebook group created to mobilize white volunteers against white allies accused of racism. The idea is to relieve people of color of this “emotional labor.”

Both inside and outside of the Back to Eden Bakery feature progressive posters and signs. Photo: Andy Ngo

Cameron Whitten’s apparent grifting actually dates back months, to when he first realized he could monetize progressive Portland’s generous surfeit of white liberal guilt. Last October, he appeared at a panel event on race and social justice with former Portland State sociology professor and hate crime researcher Randall Blazak. The blog post Blazak wrote after the event inadvertently exposes the methods used by race hustlers to manipulate and humiliate their targets:

One of [Whitten’s] points is that his time is valuable and he should not be expected to help white people with their racism without compensation. I totally agree. Before the event, I messaged him and said I was looking forward to the panel. I wanted to thank him for taking the time to be on my podcast. In the South we do that by buying folks beer.

Me: I owe you a beer. Let me buy you one tonight.

Him: I don’t drink. I accept cash though!

Me: How about a salad. LOL

Him: I find salads offensive.

I thought the cash line was a joke so I made a joke about the salad. Apparently, I offended him. He trotted out this interchange to the packed room (and streaming online) about “this white man” offering him a salad. I apologized for the offending comment and took it as a cue that I should probably think about my use of humor, something that has gotten me in trouble before. (I tried to acknowledge his point by getting out my wallet that only contained 3 bucks, which I placed on the table in front of him. In retrospect, that was probably seen as being a bit rude.) After the talk, I went to the ATM and got out $20 to give him because I really do think his point about being compensated for his efforts is valid.

For his gratuitous and public humiliation of a progressive scholar, Whitten was not only afforded a warm reception at the event but he was thanked by his target, who was evidently grateful to have been shamed in this way. Blazak even wrote a follow-up post restating his craven apology once more, in response to which Whitten received more donations from supporters. “If you’re a white ally and you understand the power of reparations, here are my personal [donation] links,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

Since then, Whitten has continued his quest to raise his public profile. He has appeared twice on Fox News’s Tucker Carlson Tonight show, started a nonprofit called Brown Hope (of which he appears to be the sole staff member), and has launched a series of heavily publicized ‘Reparations Happy Hour’ events in which black, brown, and indigenous attendees receive money from mainly white donors, who are prohibited from attending. Blomgren met Whitten one week before the scandal broke at the bakery. The perfect match between race hustler and progressive coward produced the perfect storm.

“I think he’s actually a sociopath,” speculates ‘Alex,’ a Portland-based social justice activist who has worked extensively with Whitten and witnessed his strategic use of baseless accusations of racism to take down opponents and manipulate allies. Fearful of retribution given Whitten’s growing influence, Alex spoke to me on condition of anonymity but provided evidence of their relationship. “He’s created a chilling effect in Portland. People are scared of him and no one knows how to intervene.” Alex expressed sympathy for Blomgren and said Whitten selects his targets carefully—mainly white progressives who are likely to trip over themselves when accused of racism. Some of them offer him money or career opportunities, but in any event he is usually rewarded with free publicity in the ensuing outcry. As he candidly explained to Tucker Carlson during a segment on the controversial reparations social last month: “I’m on Fox News, now the New York Times is covering it. This was a clever event.”

In response to my inquiries, Whitten insisted that any accusations of impropriety are false. “I think people listen to me because my stories are powerful,” he said. “There’s no secret manipulations or machinations going on.” He added that he makes an effort not to “discount people’s feelings.” Alex disagrees. He points out that Whitten frequently leverages his blackness to silence his critics, both in person and online. “[Whitten] hasn’t invented the language and norms around allyship or identity politics of course,” Alex says, “but he’s assumed the new role of arbiter of racial justice in Portland for all people of color. He’s left a purely self-serving path of destruction in his wake.”

Cameron Whitten isn’t the only one who stands to benefit from all this manufactured outrage. Chrysanthius Lathan, a Portland Public Schools teacher and equity trainer who originally recommended the bakery hire Lillian Green, is now consulting for Back to Eden. She’s had at least one meeting with the bakery and is set to start training its staff on diversity, inclusion, and equity in August. I got in touch with Lathan to ask her about her relationship to Lillian Green and how she came to be hired. “What you are asking for,” she replied, “is privileged information at this time, and I decline to answer.”

Curious.

Meanwhile, the two young women fired to appease the social justice mob have been left to suffer in silence. Lisa is determined to be resilient, however. “I don’t feel that commenting more on this will benefit anyone,” she says. She holds no ill-will toward Green and says the event has shown her the current malaise is much larger than any one individual. “There’s an undercurrent made up of a lack of empathy.” The one silver lining she does see is that most Portlanders don’t tolerate discrimination. However, she does worry if their sensitivity will result in them flagging more false positives.

Lisa has since been hired by another cafe. “I’m doing my best to grow from this situation and not let it get me down. I’m going to be alright.”

Lillian Green, John Blomgren, and the second fired ex-Back to Eden Bakery employee did not respond for comment. Feature photo supplied by Andy Ngo.

 

Andy Ngo is a graduate student in political science at Portland State University. Follow him on Twitter @MrAndyNgo

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150 Comments

  1. Michael George says

    I also find salads offensive . . . I mean, if they have, like iceberg lettuce.

    • Pizza Pete says

      The classic wedge salad is a great salad. I find your iceberg lettuce comment offensive.

      • Free Speech says

        You should be ashamed. The classic wedge is typically served with blue cheese dressing. WHITE blue cheese dressing.

    • Whitey Mcwhiteface says

      I eat only black beans, black rice, black jelly beans and I scorch all my food, to try and rid myself of my white privilege.

      • Alex Russell says

        Beware the clear – almost white – vanilla.

      • Auntie Tom says

        Don’t ever make black rice comment. That reminds us the rice paddies in the Old South. Way worse to work than Good Ol’ Cottonfields.

  2. Emblem14 says

    While I have to admit that reading about this filled me with disgust – at the depravity and vindictiveness of what can only be described as a fundamentalist, authoritarian cult – I’m actually glad it happened, because I know a lot of people are having the same gut reaction.

    I hope the social justice zealots continue to overreach like this, becoming more and more of a looming social terror threat to sane people everywhere, using weaponized taboos instead of violence to intimidate and extort the public. More than any cogent intellectual critique, their own totalitarian tendencies, base cruelty, extremism and imperviousness to reason or civility will make the ultimate case against them.

    These people are the mirror image of the Christian culture warriors that tried to ban things, fire people and bankrupt companies that offended them through the 80s and 90s. I remember them well, and eventually, people just got fed up, someone decided to ignore their absurd demands, nothing bad happened, and their relevance completely dissolved within a few years. Crossing my fingers…

    • BrisBen says

      I wholeheartedly agree Emblem14, however it cannot happen soon enough. Sadly, in the interim, like Lisa, many lives are being impacted and the resulting stress and anxiety is harmful. To me, the best comment is about the sociopathic tendencies of purveyors of accusations of racism where there clearly isn’t any. It is an affliction from which I cannot identify a cure for such purveyors, other than being ignored. As soon as we turn our back to these fools, their relevance will wain and they’ll take on another agenda; hopefully one less aggressive and harmful.

      • Dan says

        I agree. I’ve just gotten to a point where I completely ignore these bullies. Really, that is all they are is bullies.

        • Anne says

          SJW: “Nice place ya got here- be a shame if someone accused you of racism.”

      • Kemp Stephens says

        ….and that is a good thing, since he seems to be doing an amazing job for all races. The shackles of the thought police are are exposed and in many cases, finally coming undone.

      • David Goldsmith says

        The orange messiah will smash the communists and all will be well.

    • Incidents like this have left my husband and I having to replan our retirement. Portland was high on our list. It’s close to both our moms and other family members. After 40 years of living no closer than 500 miles from home, we were looking forward to enjoying family once again. But both WA and OR have gotten sooo nutty that I cannot abide the thought of living in either place (and we spent a decade we LOVED in SF CA). So we’re looking at ID, but probably CO where our eldest child currently lives. Poor moms will either have to move in their 80’s or continue living without assistance. I love my mom, but I just cannot face this level of idiocy even for her!!

      • Jon E Pizza says

        You’ll probably want to avoid the Boulder/Denver area then, it’s also doing that progressive thing.

        • The Solution to all of this is simply for white people to stop hating themselves.

      • Mr Dalrymple says

        Portland does contain absurd people like this (and so does pretty much every major city outside of the South and certain corners of the Midwest), but you’d be mistaken if you thought attitudes like this were truly representative of Oregon, or even of Portland. Outside of the immediate Portland metro area, Oregon is a very red state. And believe it or not there are plenty of sane people in the city too – people who see this kind of nonsense and call it what it is.

        • nwprof says

          Absolutely. It is just a small but loud and trashy population that keeps their names and their “issues” in the news. The rest of us shake our heads and laugh! I would love to contribute to a GoFundMe for “Lisa” and her former coworker….anybody know these gals and willing to get it set up?

      • Mountain Girl says

        Having grown up in CO, I can tell you in the past 10 years it’s gotten just as bad. I moved to North Idaho to escape, and have never looked back.

      • Anthony says

        Great and bold piece. It’s fascinating to me that all sorts of life decisions will increasingly be influenced by the presence of the nutty left. I grew up in NYC and am a lifelong Dem. But I’m seriously questioning whether I want to live in very progressive areas (e.g., Brooklyn) or even very progressive states (CA). I think a lot of the fallout from this stuff has yet to shake out. I think it will be felt in profound ways, not just in terms of where they live but in terms of where they work, what they read, and even the platforms they use (Google is clearly no longer the company of don’t be evil).

    • Absolutely brilliant and apposite comments. May I borrow them? I will anyway!! Cheers.

    • Rainer Rohr says

      Well said. This sums things up perfectly.

    • Bill Jay says

      Not quite the mirror image. Those fundies quietly backed down. ….these leftists will resort to violence. Mark my words.

      • I absolutely agree – just take a look at what is happening in South Africa. The left always exploits the good-will of its adversaries, to the fullest possible extent, and then when they have sucked-up all the good graces they’re going to get, they don’t just go away; they then seek to destroy/discard their victims.

        These people are what Jordan Peterson would call the “predatory parasite” – and they’re just getting started…

    • TarsTarkas says

      They’re like Ann Putnam and Elizabeth Hubbard, who started the Salem Witch Trials. They’re going to keep on pushing until they run up against someone who not only won’t be pushed around but has the power to do something about it. Who is going to be Governor Phips’ wife?

  3. Jacqui says

    What a bizarre story. Having previously owned a take away food shop, I really do feel for the employees and owners of this bakery. Its very hard to make that call where you have to stop serving customers. I think the Lilian woman could have given them some equity training and then she could have also worked in the bakery for a couple of weeks and been responsible for closing. As for those no-whites allowed events – what about people from a mixed background? Are we allowed? Should we take a DNA test to determine what percentage of non-white we are? Over reactions like this do nothing to help the plight of those genuinely affected by racism.

    • BrisBen says

      Jacqui your final sentence is bang on target. Sadly the screeching of the false accusers overshadows the quieter, genuine victims. I know because my wife (I’m in a mixed race marriage) is one of them. She prefers not to raise her hand as she’ll be seen as one of the automatic victims.

    • I’d like to start my own Take Away Shop and it will be “Take Away SJWs, Black Lives Matter and the other Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; Sexism, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia”.

      Are these people any more than tragic jokes. First stop – BOYCOTT THIS SHOP.

  4. Ed says

    It is said that as SJW culture takes over a company it eventually destroys it. It will be interesting to come back in a couple of years and see how they are faring.

    • Mark says

      I wonder how long it will take to take down Google!

    • random white guy says

      “Faring?” You mean FEARING, right?

      😛

  5. Jeremy says

    I went in thinking this would be another exaggerated take on how SJWs are annoying but nope, this is actually verifiably insane.

    • GrantH says

      I live and work in the Middle East – for the money.

      Though there are a fair number of things that I do like; the day-to-day incidences of casual racism, discrimination towards employees, sexism and a considerable amount of ‘negative-ism’s’ make me marvel at this happening in Portland.

      One society provides a fair, open and culturally rich environment that is an actual hope and blessing for mankind; the other is “smoke-and-mirrors”, anachronistic, paranoid and devoid of creativity, and obsessed with identity politics used to determine whose adherence to what doctrine lives today (and perhaps doesn’t).

      Guess which of these two societies I’d rather live in – and yet guess which of these two societies has SJW determined to prove that THEIR society is inherently immoral.

      Strange, innit?

      • Anne says

        I wonder if you’d say that if you were a female in the Middle East.

        • GrantH says

          Puhleeze – Anne. I sure as heck DO NOT like the culture there.

          But guess which culture has SJW tearing it down on the basis that it is patriarchal (perhaps these snowflakes should come here and experience a true patriarchy) and immoral/unfree (really?) … certainly NOT the culture here!

          But maybe the point I made eluded you?

  6. Alex Popkin says

    Funny how these protesters all insist that they hate capitalism, yet their response to every situation is to demand more money.

    I saw this same dynamic at work when I was in college at Claremont. It doesn’t surprise me in the least to learn people like Cameron Whitten are making a living in this manner.

  7. BrisBen says

    A sad yet affirming account of the power of emotion over fact. At what point did humanity receive a lobotomy to remove reasonableness?

    • PianoMan says

      It was fairly gradual, I think. But the madness grew as sane- but cowardly- folk capitulated to it.

      • TarsTarkas says

        When authority refuses to act in the face of lawlessness, cowardice and expediency in the face of mob action can become necessary to ensure survival. You must lay the allowance of this BS down at the feet of the politicians currently ruling Portland.

  8. If the bakery is opposed to police brutality and prisons-for-profit, and wants to let customers of whatever identity know that the business is welcoming, that’s wonderful.

    But they lose me when they fire employees for following the rules. There’s a very through-the-looking-glass quality to this episode, and it makes me question the other stances the bakery has taken.

  9. I’m surprised those activists haven’t yet claimed that uniform price for all the clientele is racist and oppressive. There really ought to be a discount for certain groups.
    Affirmative action bake sales had it right all along 😉

    • Emblem14 says

      Oh boy, given how eager these bakery owners were to perform a ritual sacrifice of their employees and capitulate to every last order for self-abasement and contrition, If I was a particularly devious SJW, I would demand that they sell a majority stake of their business to a chosen community member of color for pennies on the dollar as the ultimate commitment to equity and reparations.

      Based on the owners’ total acceptance of their critics’ framing of their business as emblematic of white supremacy and gentrification, I’m curious on what basis they would object? I wonder if their heads would explode as the hyper-scrupulosity, literally ‘fearing sin where there is none”, battled with the nagging realization they were getting hustled out of their business.

      • ga gamba says

        I would demand that they sell a majority stake of their business to a chosen community member of color for pennies on the dollar as the ultimate commitment to equity and reparations.

        Sell?!

        Sell?!?!

        What kind of criminal of hate are you?

        Give. That’s the correct response, grand wizard.

      • David Goldsmith says

        This is why the Leftist Liberal Leviathan is collapsing. The doomed strategy of “balkanizing” the population(identity politics)in order to more easily control it has led to civil war among the Leftist groups as they brutally compete to achieve the status of “greatest victim” of the “white christian capitalist heterosexual male’s oppressive patriarchy”. The Left is eating its own at the leper colony they created as they try to destroy the achievements of western civilization.

  10. Roger Darce says

    Why do the (white) owners of Back to Eden imagine that in some way, if they’re nice to bullying intersectional race-warriors (or Islamists, or any other identity politics activists) that they’ll be allowed to continue on their capitalist way?
    Like a dog smells fear these people smell guilt and money … and that’s the turn-on for them. Now, like Evergreen Uni, they’re paying for not protecting their staff while pandering to the parasitic clique they sought to appease / sell the occasional pie / teach the occasional crappy course.
    The correct response to Lillian Green and her ilk was: “We were closed at 9:06 pm.. You entered and proceeded to abuse our staff. Now f*** off to another bakery and never enter our premises again.”
    They’d have taken some initial flack for the response but in the absence of fear / guilt the intersectional warriors don’t get the same kick / pay-off, get bored and move on.
    Rule 1: Show no fear, only disdain.

    • stevengregg says

      If you act like prey, predators will treat you like prey. If you don’t, they won’t. Predators want easy prey, not difficult prey.

      • Brian Brandt says

        Want to find wolf, make noise like sheep. Russian proverb

      • Anne says

        Bingo. You don’t see them pulling this racist crap towards known conservative or redneck businesses, because they’d be shown the door before they got their video running. This shop was targeted because, as the predator SJW said, “I saw all these signs in the windows that made it look ‘safe’ and inclusive, including ‘black lives matter.’ ”

        She knew she had a soft target before she even walked in.It’s a bullying scam, that’s all it is, it’s sheer vindictiveness & race-baiting.

  11. This is nothing but a modern, black version of La Mano Nero — the Black Hand, which used to hustle poor Italians back in the day. “Give us money or else!” It only works because too many white people are brainwashed and/or scared of being called “racist.” It’s ridiculous. Cameron Whitten needs to be arrested for extortion.

  12. “If you choose to not serve this black cisgender woman in your establishment,” she said, “then you’re choosing to not serve my community.”

    What the fuck has being ‘cisgender’ got to do with this? Is she claiming that if she was trans this wouldn’t have happened?

    Also, where the fuck are the unions in all this? Is this yet another virtue signaling coffee chain that suppresses unions and doesn’t pay its taxes?

  13. Mary says

    The principle in the title of the article, white guilt, attracts its opposite, black grievance industry. Both are rooted in nonsense and cynicism and are toxic to our culture. Neither can be satisfied. Both are destructive. Starbucks, by ceding power over its business to the infinitely vague claims of the aggrieved, has invited more grievance (watch). Exactly what has occurred here. The antidote to streaming outrage on social media is to post the recordings of what actually happened, whenever possible.

  14. I read the entire post! That rarely happens. Fascinating stuff. These companies seem to think blaming their frontline employees is the key to warding off social justice warriors but it’s only emboldening them. Back to Eden Bakery and Starbucks should be ashamed! All these eschewed employees are now in hiding, as if they’ve done anything wrong, and it’s hideous that they’ve been scapegoated by their employers. No loyalty! Maybe unions should make a comeback?

  15. Jack B. Nimble says

    @Jonathan Bowen

    Excellent point about labor unions! In the US, employee rights are mostly contractual rights [for example, union contracts], rather than legal or constitutional rights. So most employees work ‘at-will’ and can be fired for any reason or no reason, because they have no union.

    To be clear — I don’t approve of the firing of the two bakery employees. However, the current political climate in the US is strongly in favor of management, to the detriment of both customers AND employees. I don’t see that changing any time soon.

    Hint — lots of stores have doors that can be locked from the outside but are still operable from the inside. These doors pass the fire codes and would avoid the problem that the bakery encountered with enforcing a closing time.

    • AC Harper says

      A cheaper hint… put up a ‘closed’ sign at 9:00 pm.

    • Andre says

      Given the very public sacrifice of the workers on social media, though – I wonder whether they have grounds to sue. Maybe a labor lawyer can chime in.

      • Brian Brandt says

        Good luck on doing that in Portlandia.

  16. Lakanal says

    Why on earth is “Lisa” not suing the ex-employer for defamation?

    • AC Harper says

      Because no other employer will then want to employ her?

    • supra says

      I wouldn’t sue over some crappy white-guilt bakery job either. Hourly wage jobs are all over the place. If any future employers stumble upon the story I’d just link them to this article which explains everything.

    • john doesky says

      The 2 employees should easily be able to suck some well-deserved money from that bakery. They’d probably settle out of court with no name disclosures.

  17. Jeff York says

    What happened to those two employees is upsetting for all the obvious reasons. The person who fired them, while acknowledging that they’d done nothing wrong, is a coward and should be ashamed of themselves. In my teens & college years, in the late ’70s & early ’80s, my several minimum-wage jobs included three fast-food places. When any food service establishment closes you don’t just clock out and go home. That’s when clean-up begins and can take hours, depending on the type of establishment. A bunch of new customers right at closing-time can add an hour or more to finally being done with clean-up. If they come just before closing-time, well, that’s the cost of doing business. But no one who arrives after closing-time should have to, or expect to, be served. Those poor stiffs making minimum-wage, or not much more, *want* *to* *go* *home*.

    • Matt Anthony says

      I would love to see a group of white people show up at 10:06 to see if they got service.

      • Great point, @Matt Anthony –

        I’ll bet if we DID, we would IMMEDIATELY be accused of “assuming our ‘white privilege’ would be sufficient to bestow additional favoritism upon us; and special-treatment…”

        (Which, if expecting an establishment to delay their closing-time based upon your blackness isn’t a demonstration of anticipated privilege – and then seeing their closing time officially EXTENDED by an hour, as a result – then I don’t know what privilege is…)

  18. Graeme Sutton says

    I think this would have been a better article and fit Quillette’s usual standards better if you could maintain a more neutral tone (yes I’m #TonePolicing you). Any Social Justice person who reads this is going to read the first two paragraphs, feel attacked and disregard anything you say as coming from the enemy.

    • Dog Walker says

      @Graeme Sutton, I don’t think Quillette is targeted at SJWs or any other ideological extremists in the first place. Quillette’s target demo is more on the spectrum of center left to center right, and it’s subject matter is often ABOUT what extremists do. So if the ‘tone’ of any article here pisses off an extremist on either end of the political spectrum, then…good. Fuck ’em.

      • JackbeThimble says

        If Quillette is only ‘targeted’ at those who already agree with it’s ideological line then it’s essentially an echo chamber/circle jerk for those already converted to Anti-SJWism and there’s no point in reading it unless your looking to get a dopamine hit from slagging your out-group. Fortunately Quillette has a history of using a more objective and nuanced voice and of at least trying to persuade people outside our bubble. That’s why it’s still worth reading and why I’m disappointed at the tone in this piece. Andy Ngo has been much more persuasive in the past with much less open invective.

        • puddleg58 says

          This is the “balanced journalism” argument. But a balanced response to an outrageous act is either an outraged one, or else dishonest. Re-reading those first two paragraphs, the first by itself is light and free from invective. The second might seem harsh, but the claims are supported later in the story. It’s saying nothing but the truth.
          I do get your point, but I think the kind of SJW who would be turned off by those phrases wouldn’t be interested in reading an article that didn’t take a stand. They’d prefer it took their stand, but they’d be turned off by any calm argument.

    • supra says

      Extremists are going to feel extreme no matter what. Why should we cater to them? Treating these extremists with kid-gloves is exactly what gets businesses in these kinds of situations.

      I don’t think this site should try catering to these people’s feelings at all. Full stop.

    • Andre says

      Perhaps the article could have started by suggesting SJWs are incapable of reading more than two paragraphs.

    • stevengregg says

      A social justice person is irrational and will not be swayed by reason, anyway. It is a mistake to pander to their irrational sensibilities. Serving the truth straight up is always the best policy.

    • V 2.0 says

      They should. Since they are going to stick their fingers in their ears anyway what is the point of trying to appease them? They should be attacked and disregarded, and ridiculed at every turn so those of us who are sane will know we are not alone and can eventually stop this nonsense before more lives are ruined.

    • Nicholas says

      @Graeme Sutton, I’m not sure what you’re hoping for. Terms like ‘overzealous politics’, or ‘social justice mob’ in the first 2 paragraphs might seem inflammatory out of context, but unfortunately in this case appear to merely be an accurate descriptions of the facts at hand… So much so that I’m having trouble imagining how they could be altered to be perceived as less off-putting to some while still being true to the events. If SJWs don’t like being compared to an unruly mob, perhaps they could stop acting like one?

    • Alex Russell says

      If clear, factual, and dispassionate reporting on an incident makes the object of the report feel attacked then they need to examine their actions, open their minds, and try to learn why their own actions are making them feel badly.

  19. Jack B. Nimble says

    The picture at the head of this article isn’t marked as a stock photo, a picture by Mr. Ngo, or something else. That’s unfortunate, because the photo shows the daily hours at the bakery as 9am-10pm.

    The picture taken by Mr. Ngo that appears later in the article has lots of glare, but also seems to show a 10pm closing time every day of the week.

    If that is the door signage that Ms. Green encountered at 9:06 pm, it is understandable that she would be confused and/or aggrieved. And it would seem that the employees were caught up in this confusion.

    Maybe the bakery has a coffee shop section that stays open an hour later than the pastry section. Can anyone in Portland shed light on this??

    • Andy Ngo says

      Thank you for your feedback. The bakery changed its operating hours after the incident. I took this photo after the change occurred across its business.

      • Jack B. Nimble says

        @Andy Ngo

        OK, Thanks for clearing that up! I still blame the manager-owners of the bakery for this mess [no matter how hip they are], rather than the anonymous employees or Ms. Green. But I would, wouldn’t I, because I’m a liberal Democrat.

        Look, anyone who has been in a shopping queue when a person or group cuts into the line knows that customers notice when someone seems to be getting special treatment or claiming an unfair advantage — even if there is no ‘race angle.’ Just look at the arguments that break out during ‘Black Friday’ sales events in the U.S.

        Like a lot of small businesses, ‘Garden of Eden’ probably relies in large part on regular customers who ‘know the rules.’ But the owners seem to have fallen down in clearly conveying their firm policy on closing time to casual or first-time customers. Turning off all outside lights, pulling down shades or blinds, etc. promptly at 9pm would have avoided putting the employees in such an awkward position.

        Having said all that, I do think that Ms. Green greatly over-played a weak hand.

  20. Supra says

    “So, I’m gonna put this on Facebook and I’m gonna blast their ass.”

    Clearly the words of an oppressed person.

    • I hate this woman with the fire of 1000 suns. Just a race baiting pig looking for some free money and attention. She is worthless.

  21. Well researched and well written. We are sadly at a place where the level of absurdity has gotten so out of hand that I am not sure anything I read could shock me anymore, especially coming from somewhere like Portland. Unfortunately there are a small number of very vocal and cunning racial grievance hucksters who make a nice living from aggravating division. Meanwhile the vast majority of the black community continues to struggle along in cycles of violence and poverty. Abusing self-loathing whites might generate a few Facebook hits but it doesn’t do anything to address the actual issues in the black community.

  22. LMJ313 says

    They had all the virtue signals in place. Rainbow banner? Check. Black Lives Matter sign? Check. Safe Space declaration? Check. All the pretentious, asshat-SJW-fakery was in place. “Don’t hate us, we’re the good guys!!!”

    OOPS.

    Nothing makes me smile more than seeing a bunch of liberal pansies getting eaten alive by the beast they’ve nurtured and fed for decades. Their stumbled, fumbled reaction had all the dignity and intellectual grace as a fart in church. Year after year of liberal cultural rot purposefully fomented on the black community under the false guise of compassion, just so you could prance around in circles railing against the oppression committed by evil white people every election. Spare us your weep and woe, you reap what you sow.

    When you dance with the devil, the devil doesn’t change. The devil changes you.

  23. Cameron Whitten is just another charlatan racial huckster making money off of self hating white people. I saw his apperance on Tucker Carlson. You can tell he knows he is a fraud but he doesn’t care because business is good and he feels like he is untouchable.

    • Matt Anthony says

      It’s worked for decades for Jesse Jackson. Ask any Chicagoan.

    • Ben says

      Business is good but he can’t even clearly lay out his fees in advance of offering his services. That would be too much emotional labour. But its not too much to write statements for free or be offended about salad.

  24. Ken says

    First time commenter here. Sadly I’m surprised by none of this. No matter how much you grovel in front of these people, they will never be satisfied.

    • V 2.0 says

      So if I’m racist because I’m white I was born this way and any attempt to change will be doomed. Which absolves me of all responsibility to try and modify my behavior. Good to know…

  25. this is utter garbage. I hope the two employees sue the pants off the bakery and this nonsense racial crap that this two bit hustler is trying to make into an incident. Blacks are utterly preoccupied with race and need to catch up to the rest of society.

  26. Aly... says

    Funniest article I’ve read recently; I was literally laughing out loud, no joke. Makes me want to move to Portland and open a “trigger” business, just to bait the outrage establishment and enjoy the show. I’m just teeming with ideas…

    • Dale says

      I would frequent such an establishment! Plus, all the water glasses could be filled with human tears…

  27. I worked in Portland City Hall and watched the rise of Cameron Whitten from the first “hunger strike.” There are many people there who see his con but are afraid to speak out. The intersectional warriors are very powerful in Portland politics. This reporter deserves great credit for the courage to take on the New-Mccarthyism in the Portland landscape, especially as a PSU student.

  28. Matt Anthony says

    This article makes “Portlandia” seem like more of a tragedy than a comedy.

  29. Susan says

    so get woke, go broke. Why do the owners think they can ever atone for their original sin by hiring diversity-equity trainers? Why does no one reading this story suspect that the original complaint was not a set-up?

  30. Dean says

    feel bad for the employees, but these owners deserve every bit of discomfort, inconvenience, and ultimately the failure of their bakery. Spineless fools.

  31. Marc Moscato says

    Thank you for having the courage to publish this story. I, too, have had a horrible experience with Cameron Whitten that would validate many of these arguments. I lost my business and was thrown under the bus while he sought to advance his career and agenda. If you are writing a follow up, feel free to reach out. Here are more details: https://www.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2015/12/23/know-your-citys-former-director-outright-denies-any-misdeeds-and-says-hes-confused-by-the-suggestion

  32. dirk says

    It’s like in a strip of Wilhelm Busch on Max und Moritz, for German children about 100 yrs ago, with chapters ending with:
    – dieser war der sechste Streich
    – under der nachste der kommt gleich
    I wonder about the next one, there will be one, that’s 100% sure! Only, I hope it won’t end as in those comics.

  33. Anne says

    The ultimate (and expected) irony: a female black SJW on Twitter, from Portland (who claims to have invented hashtag #BurritoGate) promotes a black vendor selling pickles that ‘culturally appropriate’ from Thailand (Sriracha), white Scots (whisky), 1923 white farming couple in IL (Bread & Butter) & Mexico (Jalapeno). Confirming once again what has been obvious all along: the ‘SJW movement’ is really only about anti-white racism & bullying.

    She blocked me when I asked her if the black vendor wasn’t also ‘culturally appropriating.’ 😉

  34. CPA says

    I looked up Whitten’s “Brown Hope” organization. It appears to be an actually abusive 501(c)(3), breaking the rules against political activity and private inurement that the IRS investigated all the conservative groups over a few years ago. It is brand new so no 990 has been filed yet (granted 501(c)(3) status in April 2018 according to Charity Navigator).

  35. What you are seeing in Portland is decadence and decline. The childish, selfish, and dangerous silliness of opportunistic people seizing ground in a moral and intellectual vacuum where there is no courage or truth-telling. That vacuum has been produced by our institutions, but it has become an actual culture in places like Portland and in some colleges and universities.

    It’s astonishing that things have come to this! And yet, there is, especially here on Quillette, but spread out in many online places, a new kind of thinking freely, a thinking for oneself, and a willingness not to back down–rather, to be courageous, informed, and yet restrained. To be truthful. This movement does not have a political party or organization, but it is going to have a decisive influence and make a big cultural and political difference.

  36. Beat says

    Nobody likes to be denied from Eden! However, now, Eden has at least a SJW more and two “guardian” angels less. One more snake in the garden.

  37. Russell Clarke says

    I for one am enjoying the irony of SJWs getting SJW’d.

    • john doesky says

      “If you graduate with a non-business/non-science 4-year degree then you are most likely dumber than when you started”.

      “If you follow up that degree with a doctorate….now your dumb AND dangerous”

      Dennis Prager

  38. dirk says

    @Benita: but that’s black idiom, to be proud of, in school you start with white grammar, but for the activists and conscious among them, this later again changes to it ain’t and the women is. At least that’s how I, white man, happens to see it.

  39. Bab says

    I think Kipling once said, “Once you start paying the Danegeld, you will never be free of the Dane”.

    This article makes me yearn for the good old days of Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael. At least their vitriol was authentic and sincere. They led mass movements of Black people and were accountable to them. They never asked white people for money, because they knew once they were on the white mans payroll, you’re working for them, rather than the people you’re supposed to advocate for. It’s a simple conflict of interest.

    There is nothing authentic about Whitten. He is a performance artist pure and simple. He will try and shake the apple tree to see what falls out. In three weeks, he will move onto something else, unless you’ve been fool enough to actually give him money in the meantime. If you’re willing to actually pay someone to slag you off on Facebook, people take notice. After all, there are plenty of others out there willing to do the same.

    For anyone in the same situation, a few pointers. Firstly, watch the Japanese movie “Minbo no Onna”. It’s a great movie from the POV of a hotel dealing with similar extortion attempts. Document everything. Any suggestion of violence should be immediately referred to the police By all means, offer an apology, but don’t grovel. Shut down social media if you have to.

    Lastly, there are consultancy services there that can actually help you. Do not hire your accusers as your consultants. That is not consultancy, that is a shakedown. These things blow over pretty quickly, and at the end of the day, I find it difficult to believe that anyone willing to pay $4.25 for a cupcake is genuinely concerned about gentrification.

    • diotimatwo says

      This abuse can only happen with the consent of the victim.

  40. Swipe Left says

    Reminds me of the Rev Jesse Jackson and Rev Al Sharpton economic shakedowns in years past.

  41. Greg says

    Man, I don’t think that I am ever going to Portland.

  42. ChiRon8 says

    Mark Lilla accurately calls these Mau Mau Tactics. We should call them what they are.

  43. Andy – have “Lisa” contact me if possble – I’d like to get some people to help her since she is unemployed not

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  45. Lippy McDickimson says

    If “activists” took responsibility for their own shitty lives, they wouldnt be so miserable. This bitchy crybaby victimhood grab os the very ROOT of the “hate” they experience. I have no pity for any of them. No black person alive now in the US has ever BEEN a slave, nor met one and no white people have owned any. Grow up pussies.

    • dirk says

      But it keeps them assertive, alive and motivated. Some say that an unhappy childhood is a writer’s goldmine. The slavery of once might have a similar function.

  46. Andre says

    Seems to me the bakery was racist to the waitresses. Had they been black, does anyone believe they’d have been fired?

    • dirk says

      I’m puzzled how to call this type of racism Andre, positive or negative racism? And whether the adjective of that answer depends on the colour of your skin?

  47. windplr says

    WTF is an “equity consultant”? Possibly a SJW who has found a way to get paid?

  48. Steven says

    I’ve read various articles about this incident, and in all the comments sections there seems to be almost no one defending the “victim” or Whitten. There seems to be almost universal condemnation. And these are in generally liberal publications. So I’m wondering who the “allies” in this case are? The ones calling for boycotts, the ones Whitten et al are close with? I have to assume it’s a very small minority of sycophants who make enough noise to seem threatening, and to seem larger in number than they are.

    Until the left can beat back this kind of societal poison, they will continue to lose. I don’t know what makes me angrier, Whitten and his sham civil rights performance art, or the white folks infected with pointless and virtue signaling “white liberal guilt” who cravenly cave to them. Moreover, by making this a civil rights issue, Whitten and Green are insulting actual victims of racism. It’s a disgrace, and they should be ashamed. And any true progressive, white or not, should be able to see them for what they are. But ultimately, it’s more about optics, not about substance.

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  50. Eric Huff says

    Whitten and his ilk are self-serving and reprehensible people who claim racism is the most important issue in Americans today. I’m a leftist and I find this sickening. He’s not poor or disabled. He can waste his time doing these things in part because he is NOT poor or disabled. My older brother has cerebral palsy and lives in a home whose director is underpaid and overworked. These people really need our help and would-be leftists like Whitten have completely abandoned them. There are many more things he could be doing: helping the homeless, serving the poor, etc. The fact that he refuses to do these things and has to have his face plastered everywhere in the media reveals his true character.

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  53. Real American says

    gotta luv the coming “IGNORE THEM” movement

  54. Click Bait Rag says

    In sort, Quillette takes a nothing story and spins 500 words on it, professional race bait

  55. WWG1WGA says

    The Left eat their own. In other news, water is wet.

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