Apple CEO Tim Cook is apologizing after six Black teenagers from Sudan and Somalia were asked to leave an Apple Store in Melbourne, Australia, earlier this week. The teens, students from a nearby college, were kicked out of the retail store because an employee thought “they might steal something.”
The encounter, which was captured on video and posted on YouTube and Facebook (see below), drew hundreds of thousands of views. To make amends, Cook sent a memo (made available to BuzzFeed) to the worldwide staff on Friday, calling the incident “unacceptable.”
"What people have seen and heard from watching the video on the web does not represent our values. It is not a message we would ever want to deliver to a customer or hear ourselves. Our employee immediately expressed his regret and apologized to the students," he wrote.
The letter continued, "Our stores and our hearts are open to people from all walks of life, regardless of race or religion, gender or sexual orientation, age, disability, income, language or point of view. All across our company, being inclusive and embracing our differences makes our products better and our stores stronger."
Cook then goes on to spell out exactly how diverse the store in question is: "The team is made up of coworkers from Australia, as well as Egypt, Italy, India and five other nations. Collectively they speak 15 languages, including Urdu, Portuguese, Arabic and Mandarin," he wrote. "While I firmly believe that this was an isolated incident rather than a symptom of a broader problem in our stores, we will use this moment as an opportunity to learn and grow. Our store leadership teams around the world, starting in Australia, will be refreshing their training on inclusion and customer engagement."
The letter does not state whether the security guard who evicted the Black students or the employee who offered the insulting explanation have been fired.
Prior to the incident, Apple had already been in the headlines for its plans to shutter Beats Music, the streaming service the company acquired in the deal with Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. Subscribers are being encouraged to transfer their picks and preferences to Apple Music.
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(Photo: Jacopo Raule/ Getty Images)
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