Two city fast-food joints are calling themselves Obama Fried Chicken - and the new names are ruffling some feathers. Eateries in Brooklyn and Manhattan plastered the new President's last name on their awnings recently. And some passersby are cringing, saying the name change plays into old racial stereotypes.I'll admit that this whole "chicken and watermelon" thing is getting old. But don't certain things cross the threshold of "offensive" in land squarely in the "absurd, but maybe a bit funny" bucket after the 20,293,584th time? For the record, I don't find anything even remotely offensive about Obama Fried Chicken. Frankly, it sounds really greasy and unhealthy, and besides, I don't eat nobody's fried chicken that ain't related to me via blood or marriage. I'm just sayin', if you gotta be selective, be selective.
"Why name it that? Just because Obama is black, they're going to put his name on a fried chicken place in a black neighborhood?" said Akilah Nassy, 16, outside the Brooklyn store. "If it were [Republican candidate John] McCain, nobody would make a McCain fried chicken place."
Several weeks ago, S&T Fried Chicken on St. Nicholas Ave. in Harlem formally renamed itself after the country's first black President. And last week, Royal Fried Chicken on Rutland Road in Brownsville, Brooklyn, did the same.
City Councilman Charles Barron said Friday that he will organize a demonstration next week outside Obama Fried Chicken in his Brooklyn district. Organizers said they also may target Obama Fried Chicken & Pizza in Harlem.
“People from the community were calling me and saying they were outraged by this racist connection to Barack Obama and fried chicken,” Barron said. “If you think that free speech gives you the right to insult and degrade us and stereotype us, then you’ve got a battle on your hands.”
At Obama Fried Chicken & Pizza in Harlem on Friday, the “O” and the “A” had been filled in so that the awning sign read “Bam” instead of the president’s name.
Staff at both eateries say the names are meant to pay homage to the new President, not offend customers or capitalize on his popularity. "Basically, the owner loves Obama," said Mohammad Jabbar, 33, manager of the Brownsville store. "He loves him seriously. He supports him."
Some customers in Brooklyn said it didn't matter what the owners' intentions were - the new President's name shouldn't be there. "They think because they throw up Obama's name, black people are going to come in more to get fried chicken," said Seth DeVries, 28, a roofer from Brownsville.
Beyond the racial overtones, some critics found it distasteful that a business would try to make a profit from a historic election. "You see a lot of that in this area - slapping Obama's name on businesses to make money," said Khayeen Adams Sr., a furniture store employee in Brooklyn.
In Harlem, the reaction was very different. Business was brisk, and few customers seemed offended at the restaurant, which placed a portrait of the First Family near the cash register.
However, student Skyler McCrimmon, 17, thought the name might be more appropriate "if it were a fancy restaurant." And Alphonso Brown, 52, joked that naming a business after a politician could be problematic. "Right now, Obama's popular, but if his ratings go down, maybe they'll change the name again," he said.
And no, of course they wouldn't rename the place McCain Fried Gizzards had JohnnyMac won. How damn popular would McCain be in Brooklyn? Putting his name on the marquee would be a guaranteed failed bid'ness, considering how salty Negroes would still me. Don't believe me? Remember a restaurant in Maryland merely put up a McCain campaign sign and damn near got shut down last Fall.
This is just plain ole' smart business. We're in a capitalist society. Negroes love chicken. Negroes love Obama. Add 2 and 2, you get 4. End of story.
What's perhaps most interesting about the story above is that the youngest kids interviewed were the main ones having problems with the name of the store. The older folks just wanted a 2 piece and a biscuit. I'm not sure what (if anything) to read into that.
I'll be honest, when I see folks like Charles Barron, who clearly should have bigger wings to fry, all up in arms over something so inconsequential, I sorta understand why some white folks simply cannot take Negroes seriously. I mean, c'mon, shouldn't we be more alarmed at the health problems black folks are developing from a steady diet of wangs & gibblets, more than the name of the store that sells the poison?
Besides, ain't nobody complainin' bout' Kennedy Fried Chicken. And that damn sure won't named after Leon Isaac.
Question: Are the "protests" over OBC proof that some Negroes need to get a hobby and a cold can of STFU, or are you indeed offended by this display of unbridled racism? Do you think incidents such as this stifle productive discussions on genuine racism?
NYC's 'Obama fried chicken' restaurants ruffle feathers [NYDailyNews]