Cocktails and Racism

This is something that’s happening right in my hometown of Gainesville, FL. Since this is my literal last day here why not talk about this, right? It seems like a good (or shitty) note to leave on.

There’s a restaurant here called The Top. They’re an eclectic, hipster restaurant like most eclectic, hipster restaurants seem to be with its nostalgia and throwback names on food items. You know.

I can’t say I’ve ever had a terrible experience. The staff is friendly, they have a decent brunch. It’s pretty good.

Then, this popped on their weekend specials:

strange fruit

Now listen, I initially quick glanced at the name of the drink while scrolling through Facebook without reading the description. Being the eternal optimist I am, I thought back to the 4th of July Nike faux pas. I was willing to give whoever named the drink the benefit of the doubt until people started commenting in paragraphs. Then I read it in its entirety.

OH. FUCKING. BOY.

It was pointed out on Friday how offensive this was, but the drink wasn’t yanked from the menu then. They ran it through the entire weekend, made profit from this drink which shares a name with a song about lynching black people, and then the management issued an apology through Facebook on Monday:

“The Top would like to publicly apologize to our patrons and the Gainesville community. We are deeply sorry and regret any hurt that was caused by the name of our drink special last week. We never intended to offend anyone, and are heartbroken that so many were affected. This drink will not appear on a special again in the future, and we intend to concentrate efforts on how we can be more culturally responsive. 
We take complete ownership for our failures in this situation. We also want to uphold support for our long term cocktail curator, who has a strong cultural connection to the song that the drink was named after. We want all of our employees to feel that their cultural and racial identity and expression is supported as long as it is not offensive to others. We have more growing to do, and plan to implement strategies to promote cultural sensitivity. We have always strived to create an atmosphere of inclusivity for all. Again, we are deeply sorry for the pain that was caused and are grateful for the opportunity to improve our efforts that will allow all to feel welcome.”

What about taking the profits made from the cocktail and donating it to a cause that helps poor black people in the community? How’s that for inclusivity? Even if it wasn’t the intention to offend, what’s done is done and as a sincere apology, it seems like a good start.

Everything else feels like lip service.

Side bar, allegedly whoever named this cocktail is black which makes it even more confusing. Like… what was your goal here? I read that it was to raise awareness on racism, but that’s bullshit. Do you really think people are going for a history lesson in lynching at a restaurant bar or just trying to get their drink on? 

All you’re doing is pissing off and isolating people who know this bit of history and then people who are ignorant to the message of this song are none the wiser.

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He’s just here to get his drink on and nothing else.

Since this is so close to home – literally a mile up from my old apartment – maybe the best and worst part in all this was the comments section on Facebook. Everyone in the community protested by giving The Top’s Facebook page one star reviews and calling them out. Some people straight up didn’t know what the big deal was.

And I, your favorite sunny black girl, get to look through ALL the comments and see what my friends are saying.

I get to see everyone who saw this and rallied versus everyone who thinks black people need to ‘get over themselves’ and rolled their eyes. The same people who have said to my face that diversity is important, black lives DO matter and how they try to take everyone into consideration.

Where’s that energy now? Seriously, where? This is a perfect time to flex those woke muscles.

What’s that? It’s your favorite place and you won’t because it’s not a big deal?

Guess that was lip service too.

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