"Abdul Aziz is the name I normally go by; it means servant of the Almighty," Johnson, 40, told NBC News. "But I shortened it for them. 'Aziz' alone means mighty,” he added, describing the recent incident.
About 20 minutes after picking up his Starbucks drink, Johnson realized that the barista had scrawled “ISIS” on his cup, an acronym for the jihadist terrorist group also known as Daesh.
"I was shocked at first, and then angry because I felt as though we were discriminated against," Johnson told NBC news.
However, a Starbucks spokesperson told NBC News that the incident was not the result of discrimination.
“The customer approached and provided the name Aziz. The barista mistakenly spelled it incorrectly,” the spokesperson said.
Johnson filed a formal complaint with Starbucks on Monday and was told via email that he would be contacted in one or two business days. But he said the company never reached out to him.
The Starbucks spokesperson, however, provided an alternate story, claiming that the coffeehouse chain had “connected with Mr. Johnson and apologized for this regrettable mistake,” NBC reported.
Another Starbucks spokesperson said that a district manager spoke with someone who said she was Johnson’s niece and that there was no need for the manager to speak directly with Johnson. However, Johnson claims that no one contacted his nieces, who are just 13 years old.
This incident comes more than a year after 8,000 Starbucks locations across the US were shut down for anti-bias training, prompted by the arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks in April 2018. The men were waiting for their friend when they were arrested after the coffehouse’s owner deemed them a threat.
“You'd think they'd be a bit more sensitive and the training would be better,” Johnson told NBC.