What was intended to be a simple inspection on a newly purchased vehicle turned into a racist experience, according to a 19-year-old Vancouver man.
Dustin Hawkins said he recently brought his Mitsubishi Eclipse GS to the Jiffy Lube at 2500 S.E. 165th Ave., in east Vancouver. He said employees there inspected his car and handed him an invoice for an estimated cost on maintenance.
Hawkins, who’s biracial, said he didn’t provide a name. He said he discovered later that on the invoice, under “customer,” the document showed his name as George Floyd.
Floyd, a Black man, died in May after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly eight minutes. His death and the deaths of other Black people during encounters with police have sparked nationwide protests calling for law enforcement reform. Those protests lasted for months in Portland.
After Hawkins’ story was shared on social media, calls went out for the company to meaningfully react. Jiffy Lube responded on Facebook by writing the following:
“This is incredibly troubling to hear, and certainly does not reflect the brand’s values. We have shared this information with the appropriate franchisee to be addressed as soon as possible.”
Requests to the franchisee of the oil change business for more information have gone unanswered.
Hawkins said he bought his car about a month ago for $3,600, using all of his available money. He decided to spend his next paycheck on an inspection, he said.
The teenager was visiting his girlfriend Saturday at her workplace in Vancouver, and he Googled the nearest garage to visit for an inspection. He said nothing seemed off during his time at the Jiffy Lube location.
He said he took the invoice from a Jiffy Lube employee and handed it to his sister. As they drove away from the business, his sister asked, “Why did you tell them your name was George Floyd?”
“It’s really hard to explain what I felt in that moment. I thought, ‘That’s definitely not my name.’ It didn’t hit me at the time just how serious it was,” Hawkins said Friday.
The siblings didn’t return to ask about the name choice. Hawkins said he’s not a confrontational person. He decided he would tell his parents what happened.
As Hawkins’ story spread, he said he started to see the bigger picture.
“They used the name of a dead Black man. A person whose death caused a lot of things to happen over the past year. That name was put there because of the color of my skin,” he said.
LeDonna Kirkpatrick, Hawkins’ mother, said her son has been shielded from racism and the experiences of a Black child with Black parents. Kirkpatrick is white.
She said she tried to broach the subject with her son when he was growing up. He’d see things on TV or read about issues of racism, but the mother said his formative experience was largely that of a white, middle-class household.
When Kirkpatrick saw the invoice, she said she was immediately surprised that someone at the service station would use the name of a man whom people worldwide watched be killed.
She reached out to a family friend, a Black woman, because she was unsure of what to do. The friend was very upset, took to sharing the incident online and called for action.
The family has since been in contact with an attorney. Kirkpatrick said that if her son sues the company, the focus would be less about money and more about Jiffy Lube improving its policies and ensuring this never happens again.
“This is racism. It doesn’t make sense that it could have been an accident,” Kirkpatrick said.
Hawkins said this is not the first time he’s experienced racism in his hometown, something his mother learned after this most recent incident. Before he bought his car, he was riding the bus when an older white man told him to move to the back seats.
He said he ignored the man and didn’t think much of it.
Hawkins said this most recent incident was different. He wanted to shed light on what happened. Now, he’s feeling mixed emotions. Both Hawkins and his mother have received threatening messages on social media.
“There are a lot of people in the comments (on news stories) hating on me for even bringing it up. I’m confused and not sure how to feel,” Hawkins said.