As the AFRO reported last week, Rachel Sherman went viral on Facebook after posting her interaction with an employee at a BP gas station in Largo, Md. Sherman, who is African-American, was called a racial slur by a White employee earlier this month.
Sherman’s younger brother, Robert Jordan, went to a BP service station in Largo, Md. to have his vehicle re-inspected on Feb. 15. The inspector told Jordan it would cost him $100 in cash-only. He called Sherman to bring him the money. But Sherman knew the cost of the inspection was only $30, and she went to the BP station to join her brother and inquire further about the cost.
“He [the inspector] got kind of aggressive. He kept pointing me to read something on a paper, threw the papers back at me and walked away,” Sherman told the AFRO.
After her interaction with the inspector, Sherman told her brother that they had no business there and began to leave the station. Sherman said the inspector’s response to her for complaining about the inspection fee was, “And we usually charge n*ggers more.” To which she responded to the inspector, “Excuse me?” The inspector, then said, “If you don’t have any business here, leave,” according to Sherman.
“I was [kind of] distraught about what happened,” Sherman said. And after talking about the incident with friends and family, Sherman was encouraged to upload a video sharing what happened.
“I woke up the next morning to see the entire community just behind me,” Sherman said.
Since the incident, the employee has been terminated and the owner of the BP gas station has issued a formal apology. BP is also in the process of hiring someone from the community to replace the fired employee.
Sherman said when the inspector made those remarks, she felt helpless. “Then I turn around and see I have this big corporation that acknowledged my issue…and they acted on it,” Sherman added. “I felt like they were very sincere in their actions.”
Sherman, 31, is a registered nurse and a native of Prince George County. She said that having three younger siblings influenced her response to the racial incident.
“The reason I didn’t react with anger was that I didn’t want to set that example for them. If someone does something wrong to you or hurts you, you don’t get angry and react in bad manners. You use your voice.”
And that she did, while encouraging others to come forward about the gas station’s mistreatment of the community.
Since Sherman’s video went viral, there have been “roughly” 326 complaints regarding the BP gas station in Largo, according to Douglas Roeser, Director of Community Outreach Services for District 25 Delegate Darryl Barnes in Maryland. Some of these complaints entailed customers’ dissatisfaction with high gas prices and the racial slur incident.
Roeser told the AFRO the BP gas station owner has not had any formal complaints in the past and has been very cooperative with the community since the incident. Roeser, who is White, added that since the current president has taken office, racism has escalated to another level.
To bridge the gap between the community and the gas station, BP has preliminary plans to do a series of giveaways, discounts on gas and putting up signs in the gas station thanking and apologizing to the community, according to Roeser.
Sherman said the BP’s response was adequate. But “it’s [going to] take some time to prove that they really care about the community, and they’re not just doing this to save their business,” Sherman added.