My company's silence on racial injustice hurts -- Detroit restaurant worker

June 07, 2020, 6:08 PM

Reflections by a downtown Detroit restaurant employee are reposted from Facebook with permission. The writer adds an update at the end.

By Karmen Elaine

I'm writing because I'm struggling. I'm writing because I am hurting at the idea that a company that I poured my heart and soul into has remained silent, and that silence remains on the lips of my management team, bosses and corporate leaders.

I’m unsure of how – in a city that is 79% black – major businesses and corporate partners can continue to not take a stand on matters regarding racial injustice. Detroit's resurgence is built on the backs of the black men and women of this city. The hospitality industry is primarily staffed by black and brown bodies.

Yet there isn't a post, an email, a check-in, a text asking how your staff is doing. Asking how are you, as our leaders, can make a difference.


Karmen Elaine: "Do more. Show up. Be louder." (Photo: Facebook)

Yet you will be begging and needing us to come back and work minimum wages to put money back into the pockets of greedy billionaires. ... There is no investment in the lives of the people that have worked to rebuild this city. Therapy, counseling, a meal, open conversation, anything.

We've lost our jobs, our healthcare, our lives. Isn’t there a human level of empathy – some sense of responsibility that our leaders must have in times like these? Minimally, a social media post, to know that at the root of it all you do in fact care about us?

It may seem so trivial, a "social media stance," but it is at least a light.

Instead, we see a giant spotlight on the passivity that exists in our very backyard. Would it make a difference if it was your child that died? Or your building got vandalized? Then would it affect you? Then would we have a trendy marketing strategy or aesthetic that fits our brand?

The hospitality industry loves to tokenize. Hiring the Lisa Bonét look-alikes and palatable black and brown bodies to showcase their diversity hires. The soundtracks in your bars and restaurants – you love black culture and sing along with the music, editing the N*word, but when it comes down to using your own words and standing for those very people, there's nothing but silence. You don’t want to make people "uncomfortable."

What you're doing is not enough. Do more. Show up. Be louder.


There’s been some progress made today [Friday]. We have received a list of efforts and action steps from my company, but the letter [above] still rings true for any corporate company in this time.

The idea of hospitality and what we're taught in this industry is to go above and beyond. Many establishments practice the idea of "being a family, and taking care of each other." Sometimes, a "family meal" at work is all we eat for the day.

That is why the investment and well-being of employees in this industry should be a priority.

Leave a Comment:

Photo Of The Day