Paisano's, an Italian restaurant in New Mexico, caused a stir after it put up the sign below in order to advertise its tapenade:
OK, obviously one restaurant that may or may not give you diarrhea's sign is not the end of the world. But it's indicative of how lightly some people take the systematic abuse of people of color by police in this country.
It put this sign up in order to get customers. Which implies that the restaurant believes that its customers will also find this sign – which mocks the Black Lives Matter movement – funny because they also don't really care about police brutality.
You know how you'll hear a politician or someone say something extremely racist and/or sexist, and you'll think, “How on earth did this person not realize that they were going to get into trouble over this?”
The answer is always that these people have been surrounded by other people who think the same and speak the same for so long, they legitimately do not realize that not everyone thinks racism is hilarious.
Like, OK: This restaurant did not put this sign up with the intention of getting articles written about how much it sucks, and how disgusting what it did is. The restaurant only put the sign up to be funny. Maybe it wanted to be a little edgy and attract customers who don't care very much about police violence.
“We put up what we thought was a cute play on words, which we do commonly here at the restaurant,” the owner, Rick Camuglia, explained to KRQE.
Yup, they thought it was cute to make a pun about people who keep getting shot to death because of the color of their skin.
The owner went on to add, “We were trying to promote our pan-seared Ahi tuna with a black olive tapenade relish. And so we put, 'Black olives matter, try our tapenade.'”
That sentence alone is the most insane thing I've ever read. And I've read "Mein Kampf" in Pig Latin.
I mean, imagine if this sign was about literally ANY OTHER extremely terrible thing: rape, domestic abuse, 9/11, you name it. Anything that involves tremendous human suffering and violence should never be involved in a fucking pun on a sign for "pan-seared Ahi tuna with a black olive tapenade relish."
And yet, the idea that we should simply be angry about unarmed black people getting murdered by cops constantly and for no reason has become – in many white Americans' minds – petulant and mockable.
"We did not think anybody would be offended by that," the owner added.
This is why we need to call out and get angry with each instance of racial insensitivity and offense that we see. Because language like this builds momentum.
No one instance will make a big difference. But it's when we find ourselves living in communities where 1,000 of them occur each day with no one saying anything that these words, jokes and comments transform themselves into world views.
And world views elect presidents.