Friday, October 17, 2008

Restaurant Endorses McCain. Loses Business.

Some people say Black folks are just too darned sensitive. Sometimes I agree. We often burn energy on stuff that ain't even racist, when that energy could be put to better use. That said, I'm not 100% sure how to read this story, which coincidentally hits rather close to home.

The sign went up Sunday evening, bold black letters against the stark white background of the marquee at the Colony South Hotel & Conference Center in Clinton, MD: "Country First. McCain/Palin."

By daybreak, pandemonium had broken loose all across heavily Democratic Prince George's County. Many local supporters of Democrat Barack Obama, jolted by the message as they headed down Branch Avenue on their Monday morning commutes, grabbed cellphones and BlackBerrys to notify friends. Operators of neighborhood e-mail group lists cried foul to their memberships. The NAACP logged calls. Community leaders demanded boycotts of the hotel, a common venue for Democratic events.

The outcry over the hotel marquee tapped into the passion -- and sometimes anger -- that has characterized this fall's presidential campaign. Supporters of Republican candidate John McCain have vented their rage at rallies this week, applauding thunderously as McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, accused Obama of "palling around with terrorists."

Prince George's, though, is clearly Obama Country. As the nation's wealthiest mostly black community, where about 77 percent of registered voters are Democrats, residents have Obama placards in their yards, bumper stickers on their cars and the candidate's visage on their T-shirts.

The marquee supporting the GOP ticket in "an area that is strongly African American was like putting a stink bomb in the middle of the living room," said University of Maryland political Professor Ron Walters. "What it does show is the emotions that are around this campaign and this election."
I'm kinda split on this one. In the grand scheme of things, a political sign placed in front of a hotel is pretty minor. Business owners have the right to endorse whatever political candidates they want. It should be noted that Colony South regularly hosts Democratic fundraisers, including one notable Obama event for Obama just weeks ago.

That said, the owner of Colony South is an idiot. The story doesn't really do it justice, but the hotel is on the fringe of suburban DC in the rich Negro Paradise of Prince Georges County. PG County has the highest concentration of black wealth and educational attainment in the United States. It is also notorious for having been chronically overlooked for upscale shopping and eateries until very recently. There are lots of very rich Black people with lots of disposable income, and few places to dine. Thus, the hotel's restaurant does an insane amount of business for it's relatively so-so food, mainly by viture of being the only show in town for years. I don't know if this is because people are loyal or just lack other options, but there's no shortage of cars lining up for the $25 champagne brunch on Sunday afternoons. They do good numbers, and most of the patrons (your truly included on rare occasions) are Black.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that PG County is also Obama Country. Blacks are voting for Obama at a 90% clip. You do the math.

This is a dis' more or less on par with the Sal's Famous boycott from Do The Right Thing.

I think calling this "racist" is hyperbole, and the county's NAACP getting involved when Negroes are being shot by the police like it's Saint's Row II and black kids are dropping out of school like flies is the epitome of misplaced priorities.

Still, if for no other reason, this is just plain dumb business. Your patrons are overwhelmingly black. They are entitled to spend their money on flat mimosas and cholesterol laden omelets wherever they damn well please, even if this means driving all the way to Montgomery County. It's Colony South's prerogative to display a campaign sign. It's their customer's right to eat elsewhere.

Question: Was this a dumb business move or what?

Candidate Banners Can Leave Clients, Businesses Bruised [WaPost]

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