Yelp’s new feature to make dining in safer

Columnist Andy Jean-Baptiste. Photo courtesy Opulent Visuals

Eating in Tallahassee is becoming easier for people of color and harder for businesses that have been mentioned with racist and discriminatory reviews on Yelp’s newest feature.

Yelp, a local search review and social networking site, will now mark restaurants with a “business accused of racist behavior” alert. All alerts will be linked with credible news outlets to support the basis of the alert.

Trysten Napoleon, 20, experienced racist comments from customers at a restaurant in Collegetown. Napoleon said, “We were dressed up because we came from a meeting and there was a group of white kids sitting at a table and one of the boys said ‘I didn’t know black kids up here had decent clothes’ and his friend replied  ‘the clothes are probably hand-me-downs.” Although no one from the staff said anything themselves, the group did not feel like alerting staff because they sensed nothing would be done, so they left.

Discrimination from other customers can make anyone’s visit feel unpleasant and uncomfortable in an eating environment. Especially if an individual is going out of their way to make other guests uncomfortable. No one should be subjected to that.

The Yelp alert feature will be beneficial to people of color, specifically Black people who have been continuously profiled in restaurants across Tallahassee. This will help others either avoid the restaurants altogether or at least be prepared for something that may happen during the course of their visit.

Jelani James, 21, experienced discrimination at Township with two friends. James and his friends were the only Black guests in the restaurant, one of his friends being underage and could not drink.

The waitress inquired about their ages but did not ask for identification. James and the friend who was of age friend ordered drinks and the waitress began pointing at them and speaking to her manager about them at the table. During their visit to this restaurant James, and his friends heard the use of racial slurs from the all-white staff and then was later kicked out by security because workers claimed they observed the underaged guest drinking liquor.

James tried to explain to them, she did not drink the liquor because the drinks had only gotten there two minutes ago and no one drank anything. Nonetheless, they were still kicked out and left with a terrible experience.

“When I told some other people what had happened they told me that either themselves or friends of theirs had a similar or the same experience as well,” James said.

Ideally, I would imagine those who see that these restaurants have a discriminatory history would not go at all and spend their money where they will not encounter these kinds of issues.

Many black college students have been racially profiled or discriminated against at Hobbits on West Pensacola. Numerous students have gone to social media stating that they had a terrible experience and will no longer support the business and urged other students to avoid the restaurant.

Bryant Floyd tweeted “Hobbits on Pensacola is Racist do not eat there,” after being racially profiled with friends at the restaurant.

I have not experienced any racial incidents at restaurants while in Tallahassee, but this new Yelp feature will be beneficial, especially for those looking to try new restaurants or going into an unfamiliar area. All people of color should utilize this feature to their advantage and eat comfortably in restaurants that suit us.