Dallas Sous Chef Told "Get Out of My Country! We Won!" After Speaking Spanish to His Grandmother
Since Wednesday, Americans of all backgrounds have been reporting instances of harassment from Donald Trump supporters. Yesterday, a white Dallas sous chef was harassed for speaking in Spanish to his grandmother, who wants to learn Spanish.
Christian Koelling is white. He's also a DFW native, graduating from Plano High School and working at restaurants like Tei-An and Ten Ramen before taking a sous chef position at Braindead Brewing. Despite his "super Caucasian" background, he says, yesterday, a Donald Trump supporter verbally attacked Koelling in the parking lot of a Plano Walmart, telling him "get out of [my] country! We won! You lose! Now get back across the wall," Koelling recounts.
At the time, Koelling says, he was on the phone with his grandmother, who is also white. "I'm not super great (at speaking Spanish), but my grandmother wants to learn, so we talk in Spanish when she calls," he says. "Apparently my accent is on point, though."
"The whole thing lasted about 15 seconds," Koelling tells the Observer. "I was talking on the phone to my grandmother in Chicago. All I basically said was, 'Hi! How are you? I'm doing well; I'm very busy.' As I was saying this (in Spanish), these two guys who were maybe early 20s were walking past, and as soon as they got right next to me turned and said, 'Speak fucking English,' to which I replied 'excuse me?' He said, 'Much better. Now get out of my country. We won. You lose. Now get back across the wall.'"
Koelling told the men he is an American native, but the men who harassed him weren't having it.
"I replied, 'I was born and raised in America,'" Koelling says. "He flipped me off and they got in their shitty Ford Explorer and drove off. Nothing felt really physically threatening, as they were walking away the whole time they were talking. And just to clarify, I am definitely a white guy. German, to be exact."
Koelling, who posted about the incident on his personal Facebook page, felt concern that the men who harassed him might do worse to others. Other Dallasites that are Facebook friends with Koelling shared similar experiences of harassment. One woman, who was born in Huntsville, Alabama, was approached by a Trump supporter and told, in front of her children, that she would soon be deported, she says.
"I had a real quick WTF moment, and then as I was walking away, I started thinking about how they just yelled at some random guy just because I was speaking Spanish," he says. "If they could yell at me that easily, they've done it before and they will do it again. And maybe they get bolder, maybe they get more physical. Then what?"
This may not be the first incident of harassment we hear about from Dallas' restaurant community, which employs a large amount of minorities, who are often Hispanic, and even refugees from Middle Eastern countries.
Koelling says he's optimistic about the future, but cautious as well.
"I still feel unsure," he says. "I don't personally agree with our choice to vote in someone with such blatant moral issues, but I'm at least hopeful for the future. I think now is the time, that if you haven't been involved in politics before, this is why you should be."
Koelling says he hasn't heard of any other Dallas restaurant employees facing harassment, but he feels concern for them now.
"This did nothing but reinforce the very real fears I see in their faces everyday," he says.
If you work in the DFW restaurant industry and have experienced harassment or a significant decrease in gratuities this week related to your race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, gender, religion or other factors, please email email@example.com and tell us your story.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Dallas dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.