Customers reportedly carved "KKK" into a pancake for a black waitress at an IHOP in Texas, sparking outrage on Jan. 1.
Waitress Tenasha Ballard said she had just served four high school kids and had joked around with them. Then, they ordered a to-go coffee cup, reports KXII.
But by the time she arrived back with their order, the kids had gone. In their place, they left pancakes cut into the letters "KKK."
At first, Ballard couldn't believe what she was seeing.
"At the moment I’m like I don’t believe this," Ballard said. "I’m seeing this wrong. So I went to the tables at the front and said what do you see on this plate? What letters are these? And they said KKK. And I said I thought so."
Ballard said it was the second racist comment a server at the restaurant in Sherman received that night. Earlier the same day, another customer called one of her co-workers the n-word.
Ballard took a photo of the pancakes and posted it on social media to raise awareness of the kind of racism servers can face.
“Respect people," she said. "It’s one of the things that I was always taught. If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it. Don’t spell it in food. Don’t say it."
"They just crushed my spirit," she added. "I didn’t know what to do after that."
Ballard said the boys were wearing their letterman jackets from Bells High School.
“For them to come out in their school colors and disrespect someone because no one is going to do anything then they knew that they could do that," commented Ballard. "They felt like they could."
Her remarks prompted the school district's superintendent to respond.
"We regret this action was taken by our students," Bells Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Joe D. Moore said in a statement. "It is in no way reflective of BISD nor the community of Bells. As I understand, it took place at 2:30 a.m. and it was not a school related event nor were the students under BISD supervision in any way. In addition, it is worth noting BISD students are awarded letterman jackets for participation in numerous organizations, not just athletics. Again, we regret this occurred and wish Ms. Ballard the very best."
Meanwhile, many online responded to the photo with outrage and support for the waitress.
"Tenasha, I am a 65 year-old white guy in rural Wisconsin and I am so sorry for what happened to you," commented one man under a video she posted on Facebook. "Those boys are ignorant and blind and you certainly did not deserve such casual cruelty."