Things That Matter

Buffalo Wild Wings Faces Backlash After Booting An African American Family From From Its Restaurant For ‘Racist’ Regular

Like most families who hit up Buffalo Wild Wings for a family birthday, the Vahl family was looking for a friendly family meal when they went to the restaurant on a Saturday night in Chicago. However, the family and their party, a group made up mostly of African American adults and children, were faced with a dreadful experience of discrimination instead.

The family had just sat down for a meal when staff at the restaurant ordered them to leave their table.

The incident started when another customer insisted he would not be seated by Black people.

PSA: I usually don’t post these types of things but we think people need to be aware of the situation.Last night…

Posted by Mary Vahl on Sunday, October 27, 2019

Last week on October 26,  the Vahl family and their party, which included 18 people, headed to a Buffalo Wild Wing located in a strip mall in Naperville, Ill. Naperville is reported to be a racially diverse suburb about 40 minutes southwest of Chicago. In a post to her Facebook page, Mary Vahl described the racist encounter. The story has been shared more than 4,500 times as of Monday afternoon.

At the time, Justin Vahl asked for a table of 15 for his family. However, as the host began to set up their table, he realized he’d made a mistake and approached her asking to accommodate for a table of 18. Then the host asked Vahl a question that caught him off guard,  “What race are you guys?” A report from the Washington Post says that the young host was African American.  Justin Vahl asked why it mattered and the host replied that a table with 2 of their “regular customers” were next to where they were to be seated and he didn’t want the party sitting there because he is “racist.”

Not wanting to give the customer the “satisfaction” of leaving, the family sat down at the table anyway and began their orders.  According to Mary Vahl, they realized who the customer was because he, at this point, continued to shoot them glares. However, it wasn’t until the other customer spoke to waitstaff and had a manager ask them to move that things got serious.

“These seats are reserved,” a staff member told them, “and we will have to move your group.” According to the Naperville Sun, Buffalo Wild Wings does not take reservations. According to Mary Vahl, the men at the party politely refused and requested to speak with the manager. It turns out the staff member who attempted to get them to move WAS the manager. 

When the family finally complained to their waitress, she replied that she was already aware of the situation. Vahl expressed her frustration in her post saying, “How is an establishment ok with serving people who try to control which types of people sit around them?! It was not ok that that a person of management was willing to move 6 adults and 12 children versus 2 grown adults who are uncomfortable sitting by black folks!!” 

By this point, Vahl said the group had been made to feel extremely uncomfortable for the situation they were subjected to and eventually the restaurant’s service manager, a woman named Hannah, approached them.  “After already speaking to the other table, to say that it was told to her that our seats were already reserved by a party of 18 that called in.” Vahl explained in her post. “Although we walked in with no call, if these tables were in fact reserved there would have been a reserved sign on the table. At this time management is giving every excuse for their “misunderstanding” because John decides to change his story in front of his superior. We call him out on his words and tell him he didn’t “think the tables were reserved” and blatantly told us they WERE reserved and we HAVE to move our group.”

According to a member of the party named Marcus Riley who talked to WBBM, several customers outside of the party got up to hug the group when they finally had it and decided to leave. According to Riley, the host at the restaurant had tears in his eyes as the group left. 

“In 2019, this type of behavior should not be accepted because of certain views,” Vahl wrote. “If you don’t want to sit next to certain people in a public restaurant then you should probably eat dinner in the comfort of your own home. A moment to hang out with a group of friends after a birthday party turned into a discussion with our young impressionable sons about how we didn’t get kicked out, but willingly CHOSE to leave because of the unfair treatment we were being given. This Buffalo Wild Wings location has lost our business indefinitely. Thank you to the Hooters for serving our group and the patrons of Hooters for not being close-minded people that would ruin the night of others.”

After the incident went viral, the restaurant chain announced the staff that had been involved had been fired.

“If you don’t want to sit next to certain people in a public restaurant then you should probably eat dinner in the comfort of your own home,” Mary Vahl wrote on Facebook.

A Buffalo Wild Wings spokesperson told the Associated Press on Monday that it had conducted an internal investigation and fired the employees involved.

The company “values an inclusive environment and has zero-tolerance for discrimination of any kind,” a spokesperson said in a statement to WBBM.

After More Than 70 Years, The Cannes Film Festival Will Finally Have A Black President And It’s Going To Be Spike Lee

Entertainment

After More Than 70 Years, The Cannes Film Festival Will Finally Have A Black President And It’s Going To Be Spike Lee

James Gourley / Flickr

Spike Lee is returning to the 73rd Cannes Film Festival a couple of years after BlacKkKlansman debuted there, this time as the jury president. In over seven decades, the prestigious film festival has never had a black president overseeing the artists who decide which films will win an award. 

“In this life I have lived, my biggest blessings have been when they arrived unexpected, when they happened out of nowhere. When I got the call that I was offered the opportunity to be president of Cannes jury for 2020, I was shocked, happy, surprised and proud all at the same time,” Lee said in a statement.

The 62-year-old director won Cannes’ Grand Prix for BlacKkKlansman which also earned Lee his first Academy Award. Prior to his recent release, Lee hadn’t participated in Cannes in 22 years despite having seven of his most beloved films like, She’s Gotta Have ItDo The Right Thing and Summer Of Sam, playing there. 

Lee releases a heartfelt statement about becoming the jury president.

Lee said this particular film festival is the most important in the world and that it significantly impacted his career.

“It started way back in 1986 – my first feature film She’s Gotta Have It, which won the Prix de la Jeunesse in the Director’s Fortnight. The next joint was in 1989 – Do The Right Thing, an Official Selection in Competition. And I don’t have the time nor space to write about the cinematic explosion that jumped off, still relative to this, 30 years later,” Lee said in a statement. 

Do The Right Thing might be Lee’s most well-known project. The film which uses building racial tensions in a Brooklyn neighborhood as an exploration of violence as activism was solidified as a part of history when it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry and Libray of Congress. 

“Then Jungle Fever 1991 – Official Selection in Competition, Girl 6 1996 – Official Selection out of Competition, Summer Of Sam1999 – Director’s Fortnight, Ten Minutes Older 2002 – Official Selection in Un Certain Regard and then BlacKkKlansman 2018 – Official Selection in Competition where it won the Grand Prix, which became the launching pad for the world theatrical release which led to my Academy Award for screenplay,” he continued. 

Many have felt that Lee has not gotten the respect he deserves as a filmmaker — at least not until fairly recently.

Despite being nominated four times across three decades, Lee wasn’t awarded an Academy Award until 2019 for Best Adapted Screenplay. 

“Spike Lee’s perspective is more valuable than ever. Cannes is a natural homeland and a global sounding board for those who (re)awaken minds and question our stances and fixed ideas. Lee’s flamboyant personality is sure to shake things up. What kind of president of the jury will he be? Find out in Cannes!” Cannes President Pierre Lescure and festival head Thierry Frémaux said in a statement.

In the New York Times profile leading up to his Oscar win, the paper examined the ways in which Lee has been relegated to the fringes of prestigious filmmaking: throughout his career, he has earned less money and received less funding than his white counterparts, and has had difficulty getting projects off the ground. 

Lee’s inclusion might be Cannes’ first big step in correcting its diversity issues.

“That’s the dilemma of a talented black artist in any field,” collaborator and author James McBride told the NY Times. “You have to recreate the genre, otherwise you don’t survive. Stevie Wonder is not a pop musician; Stevie Wonder is a genre. Michael Jackson is a genre to himself. Spike Lee has moved into that territory. Spike Lee is not short on talent. What Spike Lee is short on is friends in the industry, and the kind of space to fail. He has no room to fail.” 

While Cannes has struggled with diversity around black and women directors, Lee as a jury president could be a healthy step in allowing other perspectives in. 

“I’m honored to be the first person of the African diaspora (USA) to be named president of the Cannes jury and of a main film festival. The Lee family sincerely thanks the Festival de Cannes, Pierre Lescure and Thierry Frémaux and the great people of France who have supported my film career throughout four decades. I will always treasure this special relationship,” Lee said.

Florida Republicans Just Introduced Four Anti-LGBTQ Bills On The Last Day Possible And People Are Asking Why Now?

Things That Matter

Florida Republicans Just Introduced Four Anti-LGBTQ Bills On The Last Day Possible And People Are Asking Why Now?

Ben Wassenhatch / Flickr

Seven Republican lawmakers in Florida filed four anti-LGBTQ bills hours before the deadline for the upcoming legislative session this week. The bills undo many of the protections that exist for LGBTQ Florida residents. The four bills would repeal county and municipal ordinances for LGBTQ workers, legalize gay conversion therapy, and ban transgender healthcare for children, according to NBC News. 

The homophobic and transphobic legislation was introduced by representatives Anthony Sabatini, Bob Rommel, Michael Grant, and Byron Donalds, along with Senators Joe Gruters and Keith Perry. Florida Rep. Shevrin Jones, who is a member of the LGBTQ community, and other advocates are now fighting against the bills’ passing. 

Advocates respond to the bill calling it “discrimination and hate.”

“Clearly they’ve decided that discrimination and hate are central to their election-year platform despite our state’s incredible diversity,” Jones said in a statement. “Just as I’ve done since I was elected in 2012, I will continue to fight any legislation that marginalizes or threatens any Floridian’s shot at a secure, safe, and bright quality of life.”

Jones also accused Florida Republicans of, “wasting tax dollars attacking Florida’s most vulnerable communities rather than prioritizing the issues that impact everyday people’s lives.” 

Equality Florida released a statement highlighting many of the consequences such a bill would have. 

“This is the most overtly anti-LGBTQ agenda from the Florida Legislature in recent memory,” Jon Harris Maurer, the group’s public policy director, said. “It runs the gamut from openly hostile legislation that would arrest and imprison doctors for providing medically necessary care, to legislation that would carelessly erase critical local LGBTQ protections.”

Senator Gruters defends the bill, claiming it “includes protections.”

“The bill certainly does not authorize an employer to discriminate against employees who are members of protected classes, whether protected by federal or state law or local ordinance,” Gruters told NBC News via email.  “While I do not believe the bill has any impact on local anti-discrimination ordinances, in an abundance of caution, I included language in the bill’s preamble to make clear that the preemption would not affect local anti-discrimination laws, and any court would interpret the preemption consistent with that preamble.” 

While Gruters claims it would include protections, Joe Saunders, senior political director at Equality Florida, claims that these so-called protections are merely a part of the bill’s preamble and would carry no weight should the bills become law. 

“We appreciate that Sen. Gruters put that in,” Saunders said. “It’s not policy; it’s not considered part of the bill.”

Democratic senator Lori Berman suggested the bill was nothing more than a political stunt to garner votes from homophobic and transphobic constituents. 

“I’m disappointed to see some of my colleagues proposing this regressive and discriminatory anti-LGBT agenda,” Berman wrote on Twitter. “What benefit to the public does this legislation actually serve, apart from tossing red meat to a political base in an election season?” 

Trans children are particularly vulnerable to the policies. 

“Transgender youth are some of the most at risk in our community,” Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s director of transgender equality, told NBC News. “It is outrageous that conservative legislators would threaten their health and safety. Medical professionals, not politicians, should decide what medical care is in the best interest of a patient. Forcing a doctor to deny best practice medical care and deny support to transgender youth can be life-threatening.”

Making it illegal for doctors to provide necessary care to trans children certainly goes against the Hippocratic oath, but if you think something so dystopian can’t happen just look at how Republicans have slowly chipped away at abortion rights – another form of necessary care that can be life-saving. 

Just yesterday South Dakora Republican lawmakers introduced a bill that would also ban doctors from performing gender-affirming surgeries or treatments on children. Similar bills have been filed in Texas, Georgia, and Kentucky. 

According to the Associated Press, “The Endocrine Society, which is the leading professional organization for doctors who specialize in hormones, does not recommend gender-transition medical treatment before puberty for children who do not identify with their biological gender. For youths experiencing puberty and older adolescents, the Endocrine Society recommends that a team composed of expert medical professionals and mental health professionals manages treatment.”

Opponents of these anti-trans bills believe the laws interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and contradict the widely accepted practices of the medical community. 

“Sadly, the medical care of transgender youth has been sensationalized and politicized,” Jack Turban, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, told NBC News. “Gender-affirming medical care for transgender adolescents is endorsed by major medical organizations, including the Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. It should go without saying, but providing standard medical care should not be a felony.”