Black Olives Matter?
August 18, 2016 (Fault Lines) — Paisano’s, an Italian restaurant in Albuquerque, NM, has garnered decidedly mixed online reviews for selling a line of merchandise with the catchphrase, “Black Olives Matter.”
Online critics have denounced the slogan for its flippant play on the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and what they perceive as blatant insensitivity towards African-American victims of police brutality, while some people jumped to defend Paisano’s.
“Black Olives Matter? Guess The Civil Rice Movement, Emancipation Vegetation, The Holocrust, Wine-11, Orlando Fruiting & Sandy Cook were takn,” @HELLABLVCK tweeted.
“Black Olives Matter is proof that racism is alive and well and drenched in White Privilege. That murder and racism would be taken as a joke,” @LilPoundCake1 tweeted.
The story first made national headlines in July, after store owner Rick Camuglia put the phrase on a sign outside of the restaurant and posted a picture of the sign next to an image of his new dish on Facebook. Camuglia told a local news station that he posted the pun on his restaurant’s website to promote a new tuna dish that comes with a heavy helping of black olive tapenade. He is adamant that exacerbating racial tensions was the farthest thing from his mind.
Within hours of Paisano’s post, online critics were denouncing the slogan and calling for the sign to come down. As Camuglia told Fox News:
People were calling us racist. Saying we were a white supremacist restaurant. Some got really derogatory and just started cursing me out.
Camuglia reluctantly took down the sign in July after local civil rights groups got involved, including the Albuquerque NAACP. Despite the harsh criticism, Camuglia remains an unapologetic defender of his controversial slogan. “I think if that offends some people, a statement about black olives, that somebody needs to reevaluate their politically correct meter,” Camuglia told KRQE News 13 in July.
In fact, Camuglia is thrilled at all of the attention his slogan has brought to Paisano’s, and sees no problem in making some money off the controversy. He’s now selling t-shirts referencing the imbroglio on the Paisano’s website. Camuglia also noted that he is heartened by the international showing of support he has received in the last month. Perhaps most importantly, Camuglia says that business has never been better.
It’s gone so viral. We’ve gotten calls from Australia, Spain, France, you name it…People have filled the restaurant and told us to leave up the sign. That’s great, you know, because a lot of people make a living off working for this restaurant.