Whoaboy. Here we go.
By now you may have heard about the restaurant in my town that did the racist thing. That’s been well covered over at The Root and a couple of local publications, as well as mentioned for at least three. consecutive. years.
Update: Within the ten days since this article was first published, The following outlets, ranging from local to national, ran stories on the events that unfolded around the protest that the local Anti-Racism Coalition organized:
The New Hope Free Press (New Hope, PA)
and The Intelligencer Podcast (Doylestown, Pennsylvania)
Levittown Now (Levittown, PA)
The Bucks County Courier Times (9/12, News)
and again in The Bucks County Courier Times (9/17, Op. Ed.)
Bucks County Herald (Bucks County, Pennsylvania)
The Burlington County Times (Burlington County, New Jersey)
Fox News Philadelphia
The Today Show (National)
In addition to these, KYW News Radio Philadelphia included me on a panel in an on-air interview entitled “Rooting Out Racism In Small Towns”, and I was asked to be a guest panelist on the “Don’t Call Me Karen” Podcast hosted by Kelley Heck and Brandon DJ Silk.
I won’t touch on that except to say that the owner apparently not only has a reputation for not being a racist, but also for his many contributions to his local community. In a previous article I go into detail about why he should really feel compelled at this point, to back up these claims with action in his local community — especially where BIPOC people are concerned, and especially because the business is rumored to be on sale for several million dollars, and ESPECIALLY now. I’m assuming if the sale goes through he’ll have plenty of resources and time to prove to us by his actions just how far he’s willing to go to repair the damage done. I’ll be waiting to see what their next move will be, if it will be anything at all.
Personally, I’ve accepted their apology (admittedly, as reluctantly as they gave it, but accepted nonetheless), despite them missing two opportunities to offer a more genuine apology than the lackluster one they eventually did.
That’s not what this is about.
My parents suffered through plenty of times where they knew they weren’t welcome at certain locations, and had constant reminders to that effect. I remember tales my dad told me of having to sit outside the fence at the whites only swimming pool in the hot Kansas summers. We all know about that reprehensible part of the American story (or if we don’t, we should).
But times change, laws change. I was never subject to treatment like that. I was a child mostly in the eighties, more or less allowed to go where I pleased. Only, some places where I was “allowed” to go, the people in those places made sure to make me feel so uncomfortable as to not want to ever go there. Too many times to even recall.
But again, times change right? For better or worse it’s 2020 now, and I’d like to think that I would not have to relive those experiences, that my kids would not have to live them possibly for the first time.
Do I believe the apology from this restaurant is sincere? Yes, albeit for the wrong reasons, and only after twice vehemently neglecting an opportunity for it while centering their own hurt. But when I saw how many people in my town responded saying that an apology wasn’t needed I knew I’d never eat there again. Put yourself in my shoes for a minute (if you aren’t already there) — would you honestly go somewhere where you know that since most fair-minded people have given up their key fobs, or have thrown them in the trash (the restaurant was an “exclusive” place where you had to “apply” for “membership” by submitting something dog-themed in exchange for a key fob to open the door — That’s how the sign got there to begin with — it was an “application” for “membership”), the vast majority of clientele will consist of people working very, very hard to excuse racism (harder than the work it would take to not excuse it), tell the restaurant they didn’t need to apologize even after the apology came, and see nothing wrong with either of those things? Why on earth would I want to eat there, in that company? No food is that good or ambiance that important for me to set foot in that place again knowing the types of people I’d encounter there, despite the breathtaking view of the river.
People that say things like:
“You have nothing to apologize for, your commitment to diversity is widely known as well as visible, my son and I will absolutely enjoy the menu selections and changing variety monthly and will continue to be members of this great establishment where everyone feels welcome an seems to genuinely be happy to be there. People that want to be victims should maybe start their own place to go and complain to each other.” — B.G.
“People need to stop over reacting to every little thing. Life goes on.” — H.S.
“I thought It was well played. Obviously a joke. You don’t need to apologize for anything. If people don’t like it, ask for their key back.” — also B.G.
“C’mon all Reasonable, Sane People! Let’s respond with a good old #BUYCUTT! You know, what we do every time angry Mobs try to shut down a business! We speak with the Green 💵💵💵 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻” — E.B.C.
“Oh but notice how they haven’t been showing the whole picture with the Dogs in the frame?? It doesn’t fit their angry, destructive Cancel Culture. And the fake Cultural War that they are wielding as a weapon to destroy this business. The word ‘racist’ is used so much now and has been weaponized that it’s completely lost its meaning and power and it’s actually doing the complete opposite from reaction from good People who are accused of it. It used to be ‘scary’ to be called a racist now I know I’ve won the fight when someone calls me one.” — also E.B.C.
“You have nothing to apologize for, Fred’s is dog themed. Love all the people who work there just a fun place to have breakfast with friends.” — I.R.K.
“You have absolutely nothing to apologize for ! For those who do not support you, you will find many other people who would love to have your key fob. This world has gone crazy and I am so done listening to it!” — J.V.M.
“My politically correct brain doesn’t kick in that early in the morning so I would have thought — what cute dogs🐕🐩 — that is — if I even saw the photo. Oh well — love Fred’s — haven’t been anywhere since COVID. 😒 My daughter stopped in when you had the outdoor seating next door. I hope to visit soon. Remember — Always look at the bright side of life! And — Always sit at the fun table (or counter)!🙂❤️” — D.A.G.
“No need to apologize. Really wish you hadn’t caved in. You whack jobs that don’t like it stay TF away.” — J.B.
“Not Necessary. Time to cut off the comments button. I have heard enough from these extremist Liberals. The key word being extremist. They just like to keep the pot stirred. I bet most of these negative comments are coming from people that have never been to Fred’s.” — W.M.
“We always have and will continue to support Fred’s! Thank you rectifying the situation; never knew there were so many self righteous people out there! #stayinyourownlane” — J.T.
“I have a great idea. Maybe Fred’s can setup a crying room for all the offended flakos. If your offended, do the rest of us a favor and stay away. Thanks in advance. FRED’S FOREVER
I have another great idea. All the offended folks here stay TF away. Then I can get a seat a bit easier on Sunday morning when Fred’s opens back up.”—D.H. (misuse of possessive ‘your’ was his, not mine. Though he did eventually learn the difference).
Or, you know, the kinds of people that don’t think there are or should be consequences for what you say and do.
If new ownership here or at the other local restaurant under their current ownership means that the clientele has a chance of changing then I’d also be possibly willing to change my mind as well, or perhaps if the owner were to, say, take a stand to publicly denounce some of the comments above, but not until then. Because at this point it’s not the ownership that most concerns me.
My hope is that the locals do something soon to make it known that this type of unacceptable mindset is both unwelcome and outnumbered in this reputably egalitarian Pennsylvania town. I also hope that the owners take this opportunity to show the community what it takes to be actively anti-racist.
For more light reading on the intersection of race, class warfare, and breakfast, I invite you to read about Bacon’s Rebellion.