Apple apologized to a group of black students in Australia who were kicked out because the store was, "just worried you might steal something." The incident is a rare social black eye for Apple, a company known for progressive attitudes and policies, and for being aggressive in pursuing an inclusive environment.
First, the incident itself, which was captured on video, posted to Facebook, and then to YouTube:
In the video, an employee of the Apple Store in Highpoint Shopping Centre in Maribyrnongtells, Australia, tells the youths, "These guys are just a bit worried about your presence in our store. [...] They are just worried you might steal something."
The youths, mystified, say, "Wow. Why would we steal something?"
"End of discussion," the Apple Store employee said. "I need to ask you to leave our store."
In an interview with 9 News, Abdulahi Haji Ali said, "Because we were a group of black males – teenagers – and teenagers do a lot of stupid stuff but you still can't give black people that stereotype. Once we heard that we are all pretty shocked… I didn't believe what I heard."
Another of the teenagers, Mabior Ater, added, "It's not fair, not everybody is a bad person because of what they look like. I'd just like to thank everyone that supported us and just hope that we raise awareness about racial profiling."
Apple CEO Tim Cook has gone on record many times talking about how racist incidents he personally witnessed growing up in Alabama affected him. Under his leadership, Apple has pushed policies of openness, inclusion, and diversity as core values. Silicon Valley as a whole is more progressive than many parts of the U.S., and Apple is a leader in that area even here.
The company was quick to apologize for the incident, too. In a statement, Apple said:
Inclusion and diversity are among Apple's core values. We believe in equality for everyone, regardless of race, age, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. That applies throughout our company, around the world with no exceptions.
We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure all our customers are treated the way they should be.
The six teenagers, who are all Year 10 students at a local school, were invited back to the store, where the senior manager offered them his personal policy. The story is getting wide coverage, including a story by The New York Times and other publications.