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Misunderstanding or Racism? Starbucks Incident Sparks Debate

StarbucksBy Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent

A debate is raging on Facebook over whether a Starbucks employee simply didn’t hear correctly, or deliberately called an Asian American man “ching.”

Ching is short for ching chong, gibberish still used today by others to belittle Asian Americans, especially East Asians.

For some, Ching or ching chong is as bad as the slur chink.

Jake Kim is a student at the Berklee School of Music and is from New York.

He dropped into Starbucks and when it was time to pick up his order, he noticed the employee had written the word “Ching” on his cup. Its common at Starbucks for employees to ask for a customer’s name and then write that name on the cup.

Kim was stunned about what he saw, and decided he wasn’t going to let it go.

“I don’t know what’s happening. I said my name is Jake,” Kim is heard on cell phone video asking the Starbucks employee.”She say Ching.”

“I’ll remake it for you, OK,” the employee responds.

That wasn’t satisfactory to Kim.

“Hold on, hold on, hold on, he said. “My name is Jake.”

By now, the employee who took Kim’s order heard the commotion and came over to offer her version of what happened.

“I asked you if your name was (inaudible), but you were on the phone. I thought you had said Ching.”

“My name is Jake, why you put Ching.”

“That’s what I thought you said. You were on the phone during the whole conversation. I would have put Jake, My name is Jake as well.”

“I thought it was racism.”

“No, You know how long I’ve been here. I have regulars.” You can click on the image below to play the video.

Opinions on Facebook are mixed.

Kim’s post has been liked nearly 3,000 times and shared 11-hundred times.

The video at last check had been viewed more than 200,000 times.

“The employee responsible for this would be immediately fired if they were at my store,” wrote one Starbucks employee. “Terrible that this happened and nothing was done to rectify the situation properly.”

“I don’t think she was trying to be smart. Her explanation sound legit. Especially if he was on the phone. Not everything is racially charge.”

Unfortunately some comments were both offensive and insensitive.

“So its a name on a cup. What you so butt hurt about??? Once you done drinking your coffee that cup is going to the trash. Who cares. move on.”

In his post, Kim wrote a long explanation.

“I literally spelt my name “J.A.K.E’ for her and paid for the coffee. For just a grande iced Americano, I had to wait too long but then I noticed a cup of coffee with “Ching” tagged on, on the pick-up counter. So I asked the worker if my order was ready. Then she/he said, pointing at the coffee with “ching” tagged on, “That is your coffee, its the only one I have for grande iced Americano”.

Kim said he was offered a $20 gift card, but declined the offer.
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  1. RE: Misunderstanding or racism? Starbucks Incident sparks Debate: If an Asian told you their name was Jake and you write ching, you’re racist. I don’t buy her explanation, it should be obvious when someone is talking to you or the phone. If Kims assertion is true that he wrote his name down then this is a slam dunk case of racism.

  2. RE: Misunderstanding or Racism: Starbucks incident Sparks Debate: ????? I don’t think this one will clear up. Starbucks is a madhouse, it’s a wonder they get any orders right

  3. RE: Misunderstanding or Racism? Starbucks incident sparks debate: What ever it is. If you are standing in front of someone helping you, have the decency to get off the freaking phone or step out of line so another non-phone user can get help!!!!

  4. RE:Misunderstanding or Racism, Starbucks Incident Sparks Debate: I think most people misunderstand what racism is. They want to use it like a club or pacifier as it suits them. To many It’s just another fancy english word used in place of common sense when none can be found. If you suspect someone is hateful but can’t specifically prove it.. just throw the label racist at them and everyone knows to hate them for it regardless of any pesky proof.
    Racism is hate.. if you hate anything indiscriminately, you’re no different than a racist.

  5. Why didn’t he just use his first name? That would have cleared up any confusion. I know Jake is a popular name but he knew what he ordered. Just wait for someone to call out Jake and if it’s the one he ordered, take it.


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