A woman who was recorded appearing to use an anti-Asian slur against a U.S. postal worker in California was immediately denounced by bystanders.
A roughly minute-and-a half video clip of the incident Thursday was posted to Instagram, where as of Wednesday morning it had been viewed more than 25,000 times.
Augustine Ruiz, a spokesman for the United States Postal Service, said the incident occurred at a post office in Los Altos, about 32 miles from San Francisco.
At the start of the video, a white woman wearing a mask is at the post office counter and asks a woman behind the counter, “Can’t you just do your job?”
“It’s simple,” the customer continues. “A letter was certified return receipt. I don’t need to hear all this other stuff that you want to try to dictate to me. I’ve been in this country for 38 years, I think I should know what I’m doing.”
The woman is heard muttering what sounds like ch—,” as she waits at the counter, prompting two bystanders who were waiting in line to denounce the slur, video shows.
The man recording the video says: “Whoa. That is not acceptable. That’s not acceptable.” And another voice can be heard telling the woman that what she said was “totally not OK.”
The man says, “She said ch—” and tells the woman, “You may need to go somewhere” and, “That’s wrong.”
“You don’t know what I said,” the woman responds, to which the man replies, “Yes. We all did.”
The woman, whose identity is unknown, then says, “You b—-” to the postal worker and what sounds like the slur again before leaving the store.
As she exits the post office, the man says: “Get out of here. Bye, Karen.”
The man who recorded the incident, Tyler Brumfield, said he posted the video online to raise awareness about racism.
“We took it upon ourselves to let her know that was unacceptable behavior,” Brumfield said.
Brumfield said the white woman was cursing before he started recording that afternoon and that the postal worker appeared to be taken aback. “She didn’t really say too much,” he said.
Brumfield, who is Black and lives in nearby Palo Alto, said he has experienced racism in his neighborhood, so he was not surprised.
“I have had the cops called on me for walking down the street at night,” he said.
He said that by posting the video, he hoped to highlight pervasive racism.
“This isn’t just happening in the South. This isn’t just happening in rural areas. It’s happening everywhere,” he said.
In his Instagram post, Brumfield wrote, “Karen calls usps worker a racial slur multiple times.”
“Karen” is a derisive nickname often used on social media for an arrogant, entitled white woman.
Ruiz described the incident as “unfortunate.”
“We expect our customer-contact employees to treat all customers with courtesy and to handle all transactions professionally,” he said Wednesday. “We also expect our customers to extend the same courtesy to our employees.”
He said no employee should have to suffer any abuse from a customer, and that the postal service has the right to refuse service to anyone who is abusive.
“In cases like this, the employee would bring the situation to his/her manager who would interact with the customer on behalf of the employee,” he said. “Incidents like this are unusual as most customers have praised and thanked our employees for their essential service, but we will continue to provide courteous, professional and essential service to our customers as they look to us for certainty, continuity and stability during these hectic times.”