Update, 09/05/21: Founder of 1880 Singapore, Marc Nicholson, has posted a full apology note on his LinkedIn page. You can find the apology here.
The background to this ill-timed question was, of course, in the wake of the case in America involving Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin who was found guilty for the murder of African-American, George Floyd. The incident, which was filmed extensively by passersby, saw Chauvin pinning George Floyd to the pavement with his knee for more than nine minutes, causing the accused to die of asphyxiation. Flloyd was arrested after being accused of trying to pass a counterfeit US$20 bill at a neighbourhood market.
It was a case that gripped a nation in protest of a police department perceived to be racially biased against African-American citizens. That an issue such as this somehow manages to find its way to the shores of Singapore is unsurprising, given how globalised and connected the citizenry is to events happening around the world.
But to have such racial insensitivity manifest itself at 1880 Singapore, founded by Marc Nicholson at 1 Nanson Road was something no one saw coming.
In an apology on Instagram, CEO, Jean Low, crafted a post where she ‘apologised unreservedly to each and every one of you’ and is ‘very sorry that you had to experience this at all’.
She went on to say that ‘this is not a reflection of our values’ and that 1880 is ‘about creating connections and inspiring conversations that helped us understand one another better, united by a shared willingness to end dogma’.
The apology ended with an assurance that 1880 will ‘work hard to learn from this and commit to taking all necessary steps to re-establish your trust in us’.
Online commentators were not too quick or keen to forgive with many wondering how not one person in the organisation flagged the utter insensitivity of this question and why 1880 treated anti-African American trauma and violence as entertainment fodder. Others mentioned that the management should consider ‘educating your staff and yourselves to not reduce someone’s life to a fun drinking game’.
It has been two days since the Instagram apology by CEO Jean Low. 1880 Singapore has not promised any further follow-up actions arising from this unfortunate and insensitive faux pas.
We’ll keep you posted if there are any updates to the situation.