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.
This is insane. Bakery in Portland fired employees after they declined to serve a woman who came in after they were already closed. The woman, a professional equity activist, took out a video camera & claimed she was a victim of racism. #StarbucksEffect pic.twitter.com/gjbUpmTAcq
— Andy C. Ngo (@MrAndyNgo) May 29, 2018