Krystal Lake recently caused outrage on social media sites for wearing her "America Was Never Great" hat while on the job at a Home Depot in Staten Island, New York (video below).
Lake's cap, a play on the "Make America Great Again" slogan of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, went viral on the web this week, prompting praises and threats.
"The point of the hat was to say America needs changing and improvement," the 22-year-old woman told the Staten Island Advance. "I don't think it's a positive message to say, 'Let's look to the past.'"
Lake was surprised when a picture of her wearing the hat at Home Depot on May 14 took off on the Internet.
"Everyone kept asking me if I was on Facebook or Twitter, which I hadn't been, and then I saw how many people were sharing [the picture] and that it was going viral," Lake recalled. "I was honestly shocked. I didn't expect any of this to happen."
Lake added that she did not get in trouble for wearing it.
Home Depot spokesman Stephan Holmes told the news site: "We appreciate and understand the concerns of our loyal customers. In terms of the message, our associates are not permitted to wear items that reflect political statements. Unfortunately, no one on our management team saw her wearing the hat -- otherwise, they would have had her remove it immediately."
Lake countered, "For the past two months, there have been a few people I work with wearing 'Vote for Trump' pins on their uniforms, but no one ever says anything to them."
Holmes said that the management at Lake's store would be "following up with the matter to ensure that it will not happen again."
Lake said that she "definitely" plans to wear her hat again, and added:
I feel it offended a lot of people because a lot of Trump supporters live in Staten Island. Trump is very rash and in your face, but when someone else has a message against him, his supporters can't take the criticisms.
People have been saying really racist things to me and that they're going to come and find me and that what I said is disgraceful and I hate America -- but I don't hate America.
I know there are a lot of opportunities here. I just wish we would worry about making America better -- not "great again."
Bryce Covert, a writer for ThinkProgress and The Nation, echoed Lake's opinion in an op-ed for The New York Times on May 16 about Trump's "Make America Great Again" message:
Which America is he promising to us? If you ask his supporters, they say life has gotten worse for people like them over the last 50 years. It seems safe to assume that, in the eyes of Mr. Trump’s overwhelmingly white male fans, America was greater a half-century ago. Indeed, it was pretty great — for them.