Can't Win: BLM Attacks DC Restaurant After Racial Training Goes Wrong


There is a tendency among the far left to turn on and “eat their own,” sometimes after a member of one political identity group tries too hard to fit in with or understand members of a different political identity group.

According to The Daily Wire, that appears to be the case with the progressive owner of a small chain of social justice-focused restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area, who seems to have run afoul of the local Black Lives Matter movement.

Andy Shallal, owner of Busboys & Poets — a chain of six restaurants that also serve as bookstores, lounges and theaters — devised an idea to prompt frank conversations about race following the arrest of two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks that sparked racial controversy for the progressive coffee shop franchise.

That idea was known as the “race card” initiative, in which employees would hand out literal “race cards” to customers that featured probing questions in regard to race relations in America.

But that effort to spur a racial dialogue fell flat when it came to the Black Lives Matter DC group.

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The Washington Post published a flattering profile of Shallal in May that highlighted how the man who arrived in the United States as a refugee from Iraq in the 1960s had risen to become a successful entrepreneur and restaurateur.

The topic of race and race relations has always been at the forefront for Shallal and is an integral part of his chain of restaurants, as are frank discussions about race with new employees during orientation meetings. That led to the recent “race card” initiative launched by Shallal, which just backfired big time despite his good intentions, according to the Washington City Paper.

That article shared an anecdote from a customer named Akosua Johnson, a “non-binary” black person who claimed to have received a “race card” from a white, male bartender that read: “Did you perceive me as racist because I’m a white male?”

Johnson shared the incident in a Facebook post that received quite a bit of criticism for the “tone deaf” manner in which Shallal was attempting to start conversations about racial relations.

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Johnson further complained that the employees appeared to be “forced” to participate in the racial discussions without any preparedness, organization or education about racial issues.

Similarly, the BLM DC group released a statement that slammed Shallal just for making the effort and essentially cut off the chain of restaurants in an unofficial boycott.

“The Core Organizers of Black Lives Matter DC will no longer accept speaking engagements, participate on panels, or otherwise patronize any Busboys & Poets or Mulebone restaurant based on our past experiences,” wrote BLM DC organizer April Goggans in a statement.

“Andy Shallal has used Busboys & Poets to commoditize radical history by having panels with local radical activists while making money from food and drink sales of attendees but not paying them, profiting on the history of Black DC while contributing to ‘revitalization’ that is fueling displacement, and posturing as a radical while being a capitalist,” she added in a nearly unintelligible word salad.

Her beef appeared to be that Shallal was making money while portraying himself as a leftist, while she also decried the “revitalization” — also known as “gentrification” — of formerly rundown neighborhoods largely occupied by minority residents.

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This incident serves as further evidence that radical activists who thrive on the perception of injustice — in this case racial — will never be satisfied by efforts to address those perceived injustices.

The truth of the matter is that racial provocateurs like the BLM movement don’t really want people to have frank discussions about race that might succeed in changing hearts and minds about the issue. They need a perpetual continuation of the supposed injustices to validate their very existence as a political identity group.

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Ben Marquis is a writer who identifies as a constitutional conservative/libertarian. He has written about current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. His focus is on protecting the First and Second Amendments.
Ben Marquis has written on current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. He reads voraciously and writes about the news of the day from a conservative-libertarian perspective. He is an advocate for a more constitutional government and a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, which protects the rest of our natural rights. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the love of his life as well as four dogs and four cats.
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