Footage of a black child being refused entry to a restaurant because of his outfit has gone viral on social media.
Viewers are particularly outraged because a white boy in similar clothing was allowed inside.
Marcia Grant and her son Dallas, 9, turned up to Ouzo Bay in Baltimore, but staff told them the boy’s black sneakers, athletic shorts and T-shirt didn’t comply with the restaurant’s dress code.
“So we want to eat and they’re telling me my son can’t eat here because there’s no athletic wear,” Ms Grant can be heard saying in a video as she spoke with staff.
“He’s nine. And there’s kids out there with tennis shoes on,” she says, filming a young white boy who had just left the restaurant and is also wearing sneakers, shorts and a T-shirt.
In a separate video, a white manager comes out to speak with Ms Grant as she demands to know why the rules seem to be different for Dallas than a similarly-dressed child.
“Unfortunately, we do have a dress code,” the manager says before saying he “understands why you feel that way”.
“I don’t want you to sympathise with me, I just want you to tell me why it’s different for my son,” she replies.
The manager could not explain why the white boy’s clothes were different, saying he wasn’t able to take a close look before he left.
“I have faced racism time and time again, but it’s hard AF, when you have to see your child upset because he knows he’s being treated different than a white child!” Ms Grant captioned the videos, which she posted to Facebook and Instagram.
The incident sparked widespread outrage, with many people accusing Ouzo Bay staff of racism.
Atlas Restaurant Group, which owns the restaurant, has since apologised for the incident, which comes several weeks into nationwide protests over discrimination against African Americans.
“What took place was not only disturbing, it was also eye-opening, and we are committed to learning from it and implementing real change as a result,” the group said.
“We are sickened by this incident and we sincerely apologise to Marcia Grant, her son and everyone impacted by this painful experience. They deserved better.”
Two managers have been “separated from and are no longer with the organisation” following the incident.
Atlas Restaurant Group has also revised its dress code policy to make children under 12 exempt, and says it intends to form an advisory board to address its social responsibility.
“We stand against all forms of racism and believe Black lives matter,” it said.
“Now is the time for change. And we believe that change begins at home – with introspection and self-reflection. We are committed to listening. We are committed to engaging in open, honest dialogue about discrimination and racial inequality – with our team, colleagues, family, friends, and community.
“We are committed to educating ourselves, to bettering ourselves, and to creating a company culture that celebrates diversity and stands against discrimination in any form.”