Washington Building Leaders of Change (WA-BLOC) is calling on Momiji Restaurant to pay reparations to a Black woman who was called the n-word by Momiji’s former general manager.
The incident, caught on video and circulated on June 22, shows the man, who is Asian, inciting a fight with a Black woman after calling her the n-word. The man then gets into a physical fight with her and another woman, before bystanders stepped in to break it up.
Momiji is located on 1522 12th Avenue—in the heart of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP)—a community that formed during Seattle’s protests against police brutality and racial injustices. Owners, Steven Han and Lawrence Yeh, said they were sorry in a video posted on the restaurant’s social media channels.
“Momiji will not tolerate this type of racist malicious behavior towards any member of our community. The manager in question was terminated immediately. His partnership is no longer valid.”
The owners said they reached out to community leaders in CHOP, Black Lives Matter (BLM), and Asians for BLM, and donated $10,000 ($5,000 each) to two organizations—WA-BLOC and Creative Justice.
Part of WA-BLOC’s mission is to dismantle systemic racism, and disrupt the school to prison pipeline for Black and brown youth. Creative Justice is an arts-based alternative to incarceration for young people in King County.
WA-BLOC released a statement calling Momiji’s donation “reactionary,” and said it “undermines the integrity and intentionality of our organization.” WA-BLOC and Creative Justice said they have both refunded the donation, saying they “have no interest in upholding capitalism, the nonprofit industrial complex, or pacifying racist guilt.”
“This lukewarm and performative philanthropy acts as a passive escape route for the wealthy class to evade accountability and avoid getting their hands dirty to help dismantle the oppressive systems that disproportionately disenfranchise the communities we serve every day.”
WA-BLOC and Creative Justice said Momiji should use the $10,000 that was originally donated to pay reparations to the woman who was subjected to hate and abuse by Momiji’s former general manager.
“Restitution is owed to the person who was directly harmed,” the statement said.
The owners of Momiji have said that they will implement racial bias training for all of their employees.