Employees ejected a group of black teens from a Melbourne, Australia, Apple Store this week, telling them that store staff were “just worried you might steal something.” One of the boys, Francis Ose, posted a video of the incident on Facebook with the title “Simply Racism—made them apologize tho.”
“They apologised, so we’re chilling, no need to take it further,” one of the group, Mohamed Semra, wrote on Facebook.
It did go a little bit further, though: the video made its way to Apple CEO Tim Cook, who decided Friday that this mistreatment of customers, apparently based on their age and race, merited an all-company email.
But Cook went on to argue that “Apple is open,” and “this was an isolated incident rather than a symptom of a broader problem in our stores.”
Apple had another isolated incident back in 2011, when two black customers accused an Upper West Side Apple Store employee of kicking them out due to their race, and explicitly telling them “I don’t want your kind hanging out in the store.” They sued Apple and the store’s private security company, but Apple successfully argued that neither employer condoned the alleged actions of the employee, and the case was dismissed.
But the video of that incident never went viral, so there was never a letter from Tim Cook to every Apple employee promising to do better—to the extent that a multinational retail chain with thousands of employees can promise anything—and “use this moment as an opportunity to learn and grow.”
After the Australian incident, Cook wrote that Apple retail employees around the world “will be refreshing their training on inclusion and customer engagement.” That’s the least he can do.