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"Coon Chicken Inn" Blackface Sign: Racism Or "Part Of History"?

American history is rife with racism, and many American cultural values reflect racist beliefs. Given the thousands of African slaves that were brought to the US in the 1780s and 1790s, it is fair to say America was a biracial society by the 19th century. A biracial, but highly segregated society, with the vast majority of black slaves working long hours and living in poverty. Moreover, the whole slavery economy and segregated society was justified by the belief that black people were intellectually and morally inferior to white people.

The whole concept of “racism” made no sense to white Southerners. Of course, blacks should be slaves and do what the smarter and more enlightened white people tell them to. They argued that if you didn’t supervise blacks and keep them busy and going to church, then they would revert to tribal savagery. Even two centuries later, Americans and American culture more generally are still struggling with the issue of racism.

In one recent example, a restaurant in Texas is being called “racist” on social media for hanging a sign that uses a derogatory term for African Americans and includes a reproduction of a blackface caricature from the 1920s.

The sign depicts a cartoon blackface with the words “Coon Chicken Inn” written across the grinning teeth. Most commenters on social media seem to believe the sign is “racist” or “infuriating.”

The name of the restaurant is Cook’s Garage, in Lubbock, Texas. The owner claims the controversial sign is “part of history,” according to local media sources. Note that the restaurant is decorated with other vintage signs, and management vehemently denied any racist intent in a Facebook post (since deleted).

“Aunt Jemima, mammies, and lots of other black collectibles are highly sought after, as is Americana collectibles with white characters,” the Facebook message read. “The Coon Chicken Inn was an actual restaurant started in the 20’s. Again, we want to stress we do not intend to offend anyone, and are only preserving a part of history that should remind us all of the senselessness of racial prejudice.”

Lubbock resident Jasmine Abdullah explains she saw the post on a friend of a friend’s page.

“I was reading the comments, I saw the sign, and I immediately got infuriated,” Abdullah noted. “Because I was thinking, ‘In this day and age, we are still having to deal with things like this? … If we want to be remembered as a group of people, that is not how we want to be remembered. If you want to put a piece of American history or African-American history up, there are tons of people you can have... Not something derogatory.”

The upset woman says she contacted Cook’s Garage to request they take the sign down, but she had not received a response yet.

“It was a piece of history in the 20s. This is not the 1920s,” Abdullah continued to explain her point of view. “If they did their history before responding, they would know that restaurant was closed down for that particular reason, for the racial epithets it basically stood on.”

Source: New York Post
Photo: Twitter, YouTube

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