A New York woman of Asian descent says she was shocked to see herself being described with a derogatory term while at a Manhattan hair salon.
Monday evening was supposed to be a relaxing day for Briana Tae. She was hours away from her nursing school pinning ceremony, a graduation ceremony signifying her academic achievements. But during a recent visit to the hair salon Drybar in Manhattan, those thoughts of excitement and relaxation quickly disappeared.
Tae says she saw on a slip called “The Tab,” which is used between employees at Drybar, that an offensive term was written on a line labeled “Description of Client.”
“I couldn’t believe that in 2018 someone would use that word,” the 26-year-old said.
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Tae said that she waited until her appointment was over to speak to the receptionist about the term and why it was inappropriate to use. But according to Tae, the Drybar employee didn’t understand why the term was offensive.
“I didn’t cause a scene, and I told her privately this was racism. She couldn’t understand what happened,” Tae said. “I felt like I couldn’t let this go. There are so many people of so many colors, so when she said she has the same eyes, it was very upsetting to me.”
After speaking to the employee, Tae shared a photo of the note on social media, describing what happened to her. “I’m quite disgusted by this experience, especially the night before a day of celebration for all my accomplishments in nursing school,” she wrote in her Facebook post about the incident. She also called for Drybar to address this incident.
On Thursday, the company posted a statement on Instagram apologizing for the incident. “We do not tolerate racism,” the statement read.
In the post, the company confirmed that it terminated the employee involved in the incident, adding, “We are committed to working harder on improving our training to ensure this does not happen again.”
Tae said she never wanted anyone to get fired over what happened. “I know everyone makes mistakes, but I think this could have been an educational moment. It sucks that this is how she was educated, but now she knows,” Tae said. “I didn’t want anyone to lose their job.”
Tae added that she wants more awareness about terms that can be offensive to groups of people. “We’re all humans and we all want respect,” she said. “I was graduating that day… this was a big day for me. And unfortunately when I think about my pinning ceremony, I’m going to think about this incident.”
Drybar co-founder Alli Webb personally apologized to Tae, who told TODAY Style she's grateful for all the support — including Drybar's — she's received over the last few days. In a statement, Drybar said they're on the same page as Tae, and want to ensure that a situation like this never happens again.
Jareen Imam is director of Social Newsgathering for NBC News, and leads a global team of journalists who find, verify and report on stories using social forensic techniques and open source intelligence tools.