You would expect to be safe in the capital, but the truth is women face harassment almost every time they step out of their houses. Combine it with a northeastern ethnicity, and the racist attacks seem unending. Sadly, that’s what happened with Ngurang Reena as well when she visited a Blue Tokai cafe in Delhi.
A #Thread that require urgent attention & redress:— Ngurang Reena. (@NgurangReena) June 13, 2022
Racial-gender oppression is a reality, not a fiction.
1. Dear @BlueTokaiCoffee , I was subjected to #racial & #gender based harassment today at one of your units in Delhi. Do you have any mechanisms to address such concerns?
She took to Twitter to share the ordeal she faced when she visited one of Blue Tokai’s units. It wasn’t just the experience she had with some people visiting the cafe but it was the inaction from the management as well, that added to her disappointment.
2. Like many of the residents’ around the block, I found your cafe to be a conducive-safe working space & have been a frequent visitor. But today, the indignity I endured along with the apathy & inaction from your management towards the horrifying event has disappointed me.— Ngurang Reena. (@NgurangReena) June 13, 2022
This is what happened with Reena. Some men don’t realize or perhaps choose to ignore how uncomfortable they are making the women around them feel. And women are expected to ignore the behaviour for their own safety.
3. This happened to me:— Ngurang Reena. (@NgurangReena) June 13, 2022
Two men, despite my attempts to avoid them, continued with their unwarranted behavior. I caught them exchanging laughs while their eyes were fixated on me for a considerable amount of time. I was beginning to feel incredibly uncomfortable.#bluetokai
But till when? When she confronted these harassers, instead of accepting their mistakes they hurled back remarks about her physical appearance. Cause, of course, people from the northeast are not ‘Indians’ in their eyes. Even other people present there didn’t come to her rescue.
4. Therefore, I confronted. On confronting, they got defensive & hurled back remarks on my physical appearance, including a note on nationalism & “Indianness’.— Ngurang Reena. (@NgurangReena) June 13, 2022
I sought help from people in the cafe, there were two other adults, but they weren’t shaken by the event at all.
She tried to take help from the management as well but to no avail.
5. In fact I was asked by one of them to “apologize for creating a scene” & “take my fight outside”. Feeling absolutely helpless, eventually, I urged the management to intervene, but I was left fighting alone. #racism #bluetokai— Ngurang Reena. (@NgurangReena) June 13, 2022
6. The entitlement & impunity such racist bigots enjoy in this country continue to baffle me, but it is the appalling -collective apathy & inaction towards such abhorrent event, dishearten me.— Ngurang Reena. (@NgurangReena) June 13, 2022
7. Why is my angst seen as a ‘nuisance’ & why did the management at @BlueTokaiCoffee not address my complaint?— Ngurang Reena. (@NgurangReena) June 13, 2022
My dispensation to protest as an ethnic minority is peripheral, is it? #india#bluetokai#racism #genderbasedviolence
9.I have lived in this city for over a decade & things seem as abysmal as history. I am exasperated from such & many more despicable experiences that have eroded my dignity & self-worth in the past years. It was undeniably traumatic to relive that inhumane experience today.— Ngurang Reena. (@NgurangReena) June 13, 2022
10. Racial-gender oppression is a reality, not a fiction. Yet my stories seem banal & my protest inconsequential. @BlueTokaiCoffee , with the hope that you will address my concerns, I look forward to hearing from you. #racism #India #racialoppression#racism— Ngurang Reena. (@NgurangReena) June 13, 2022
Soon after Reena shared her ordeal, the cafe came into action and apologised for the incident. According to them, the team member did try to intervene.
1/3 Again, we are sorry that this incident occurred at our cafe. While our team member tried to intervene during the incident, it’s clear from your messages that you did not feel she sufficiently supported you— Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters (@BlueTokaiCoffee) June 13, 2022
Blue Tokai assured her that they would be conducting training with all of their cafe members.
2/3 by the time our city manager was notified and met with you, it was too late to resolve. Even before this message was posted on twitter, our management has been planning ways we can address both of these issues and we will be conducting training with all of our cafe members— Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters (@BlueTokaiCoffee) June 13, 2022
3/3 so that they are better equipped to deal with harassment issues right away, and escalate incidents to city managers immediately. We’re also always open to feedback on things we can do better to ensure all customers feel respected and safe in our cafes.— Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters (@BlueTokaiCoffee) June 13, 2022
Some people didn’t like this corporate-y approach much and called them out on this.
please just take accountability that’s all, you don’t have to make everything sound like a corporate mail, a clear message to your staff to be decent people would be a good start— Meenal Jhajharia (@meenaljhajharia) June 14, 2022
People came in support of Reena and condoned the behaviour of the two men. They also expect the cafe to be better equipped to deal with such incidences.
I am so sorry this happened to you.— Sakshi Narula (@mssakshinarula) June 14, 2022
Reena, so sorry to read this & can only imagine what you went through. Am hoping @BlueTokaiCoffee will take notice. I think I know the outlet you are talking about, I have seen something a tad similar happen. It was handled steadfastly by the staff that time.— Anubha Bhonsle (@anubhabhonsle) June 13, 2022
Shameful, disgraceful incident. This is not ‘manufactured’ or imaginary. Am glad Blue Tokai is taking it seriously. There must be zero tolerance for racism and misogyny esp in public spaces, but I found the behavior of the other customers equally disturbing.— Gautam Mukhopadhaya (@gmukhopadhaya) June 13, 2022
Most of these are delhi brats having some connection and thus the false machismo not coming of their own achievement but borrowed. So long as politicians and law enforcement along with courts do not take cognizance, these will freely roam mkg life miserable for others.— Subramanian (@iamforfos) June 14, 2022
But does this end here? Is this the last time a person from the northeast was made to feel like an outsider in their own country by people who feel like they own the country? Doesn’t really seem so.
Who can change that though? It’s us. You don’t make racial comments against people? Great! But do you step in when you see someone doing it? If not, then that’s what you need to do. If those people present in the cafe decided to step in, Reena wouldn’t have to fight her battle alone. All of us collectively can aim to make it a better place for everyone. ‘We’ need to do better.