WRITTEN AND CONTRIBUTED BY SOCIAL ACTIVIST COY MALONE

What You Need To Know:

While eating lunch at an IHOP in Lortin, VA, four Black Army soldiers from Fort Belvoir were approached by a White woman who thanked them for their military service and offered to pay for their lunch by placing $30 on their table. For reasons unknown, the woman came back to their booth and began harassing the troops, accusing them of stealing her money while using the n-word and a homophobic slur, and took back $24 of the money she put on the table.

During the exchange, Joé Jeffers Jr., one of the troops, began recording. “Ma’am, please walk away,” Jeffers responded as the woman sat down next to him and blocked him as the group attempted to leave. “You’re making a problem,” said a White male customer who attempted to intervene. The woman then threatened to fight the man as a manager approached to escort her out of the restaurant, and yelled at the customers, “Are you the thin blue line? Are you BLM? Are you antifa?”

Jeffers posted clips of the exchange on TikTok with the caption “I’m a U.S. Army soldier and I had my first encounter with a racist woman.” He summed up his experience in a Facebook video post. “We were just four soldiers who said, ‘Man, let’s go to IHOP, we want some lunch…And then we dealt with that.”

The TikTok video has since gone viral and prompted an internal investigation by the Army to gather information on the woman and her motives. “… the Soldiers maintained their composure and military bearing throughout this shocking incident,” said Joe Richard, a Fort Belvoir spokesman.

IHOP wouldn’t confirm if local law enforcement was involved or if the woman has been identified, but released a statement saying, “IHOP and its franchisees do not condone the statements made by the guest in this video, and will not tolerate racism, bigotry or harassment of any kind…”

Days later, Jeffers returned to TikTok thanking people for their support and saying, “Whoever she is, if you’re seeing this, ma’am, it’s okay…I forgive you.”

Why We Need To Know:

What in the 1950s lunch counter is going on? Disrespecting Black men with racial slurs is saying you hate them, and disrespecting the military is saying you hate this country. Fortunately, no one was physically hurt but the trauma remains. Here’s another example of why we need emergency mental health services. Military or not, everyone doesn’t have this level of tolerance.