When a group of black girls went inside the Jenkinson’s Aquarium gift shop on Friday, a worker told them to return with a chaperone.
When they did, the employee said that the girls “are not welcome here,” according to a Facebook post from Attiyya Barrett, head of the “Princess to Queenz” camp, who brought the campers to Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey.
That Facebook status has since garnered more than 70,000 shares, 17,000 comments and 30,000 reactions.
And a video Barrett shared of the unidentified employee has since racked up around 3 million views on the social media platform.
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The employee is standing in the gift shop as Barrett recounts the sequence of events, the video shows.
“She decides that she doesn’t want the children to shop in the store because she said that they have to be with a chaperone,” Barrett says as the woman is seen shaking her head and grinning. “They go get the chaperone, and then she excuses all of our girls to leave the store because she doesn’t want them there.
“What’s your reason why again?”
The woman shrugs before responding, “They didn’t have a chaperone.”
“And when they got the chaperone what was your reason?” Barrett questions.
“I didn’t think she was a chaperone,” the employee says. (Barrett told the Asbury Park Press that the chaperone was a 32-year-old.)
Finally — as Barrett prods the worker by repeatedly asking, “What did you just say?” — the woman admits that she told the girls that “they are not welcome here,” as seen in the video footage.
After the incident, Barrett wrote on her Facebook status that she had to address the uncomfortable situation with her young campers.
“I had to explain to 40 girls that they are still valuable,” she wrote, “and (their) green dollars still spends even if racist folks try to hurt them!”
Now, Barrett says she has a reason to celebrate: The store employee was fired by the gift shop on Tuesday, according to NJ.com.
“This incident does not reflect the core values of the boardwalk,” Jenkinson’s media relations director, Toby Wolf, told the outlet. “In our 90 year history, Jenkinson’s has always been and will continue to be the place where people from all races, religions, ages, genders and cultures are welcome.”
The store has not released the woman’s name, NJ.com reported.
Barrett said she can’t wait to share the news with her campers.
“I’m so excited to go to camp tomorrow and tell them their mission was accomplished,” she told the Asbury Park Press, “that this woman has learned you can’t deal with children or people of color in this way.”
Local politicians have gotten involved, too. New Jersey Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, who represents Bergen and Passaic, called the incident “disgraceful and unacceptable” — but added that “these types of displays of racism are occurring entirely too frequently in our country.”
“For many of the young girls in the Princess to Queenz Camp, Friday’s outing was their first-ever trip to the Jersey Shore,” he told the Patch.com. “Instead of being able to purchase souvenirs to commemorate a fun experience, they ended their day facing senseless discrimination over the color of their skin.”