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‘Explain Yourself— QUICKLY’: Chick-Fil-A Issues Apology for Comment to Black Man That Some Say Had Racial Undertones

A popular Christian-centered fast-food restaurant is apologizing after a message some customers felt had racial undertones was posted on its social media platforms. A corporate spokesperson said the comment included “a poor choice of words,” and was never intended to be a swipe at the Black community.

On Friday, Sept. 9, an African-American Twitter user named Don (@KANYEISMYDAD) tweeted his disdain for their current menu selection, saying, “grilled spicy deluxe but still noooo spicy nuggets………… @ChickfilA …..”

In response to the playful petition to bring back a beloved meal option, someone on duty on social media tweeted back, ”Your community will be the first to know if spicy items are added to the permanent menu, Don!”

Within seconds, the chicken restaurant found itself in deep hot sauce for the flipped comment, with members of the Black community taking objection to the use of the phrase “Your community” being coupled with being “the first to know” about “spicy items” getting added to the chain’s permanent menu.

Initially, the original tweet had very few replies, but almost 2,000 people replied to the Chick-fil-A, Inc. comment. The original comment had 66 quote tweets, while the fast-food brand had over 9,000.

One of the first responses simply read, “explain yourself— QUICKLY.”

Someone used the popularity of Quinta Brunson and Sheryl Lee Ralph, the “Abbott Elementary” show stars who won their first Emmys for the sitcom, and edited Kente clothed headdresses on them, with the caption, “Oh, we going to Popeye’s tonight.”

Another tweet read, “What do you mean by ‘your community’?????”

“wdym by your community???” @jaxmostwanted tweeted, pairing his remark with a Black version of the “Peanuts” character Charlie Brown, pensively staring outside of a window with a Kente pattern kofia on his head.

The communications department got wind of the online controversy and issued a statement, released to, on Monday, Sept. 12.

It read, “The response was a poor choice of words but was not intended in any way to be insensitive or disrespectful. We often use the term ‘community’ in a broader sense to talk about places where we operate restaurants and serve the surrounding community.”

One reason why the controversy took over like wildfire is because of the prevailing stereotype that Black people love spicy, hot or flavorful food, and how that is often used to sell products.

The concluding chapter of Naa Oyo A. Kwate’s book,“Burgers in Blackface: Anti-Black Restaurants Then and Now,” titled “The Spice of Racism,” says there is a “novelty” and “exoticism” associated with commercial restaurants and how “Blackness” packaged as spicy or soul food is marketed to the masses.

“Objectified Blackness makes these restaurants innovative and brings with it the added benefit of bringing diners that much closer to the earth, whence the food came or over which it was slaughtered and cooked. Blackness makes the food more primal, subversive, and real,” he writes.

Black consumers appear to be extremely sensitive to this.

Many who responded to the tweet may have been reminded of the history of a particular people liking spicy chicken, in a double-handed way. But some people did not react to this history of bigoted language around Black people, spiciness and chicken, but saw the response for what it was — a blanketed response sent out to a lot of people.

One person jumped into the conversation, showing how “your community” is a standard answer that has been used in the past in the company’s response to online queries.

FixItJesus said to her fellow Black Twitterites, “All jokes aside, they reply like this frequently.” That same social media user posted a screenshot from Aug. 30, where the social media specialist (or intern) wrote, “Hi, Daniel! We know our customers love the heat, so we’re testing spicy items in different markets. We’ll be sure to let your community know if spicy items are added into our permanent menu!”

Daniel, a man who seems to identify as a white Jewish man, responded to their reply, saying, “Wow, thank you for the speedy reply!! Please let me know when it hits the Austin market!!!”

Another person took the time to list all the times the standard reply was used.

As the tensions started to die down, one customer rendered his last thoughts on the “your community, spicy chicken” controversy saying, “That chick fil a spicy grilled sandwich was mid af [thumbs down emoji] yall definitely hyped it.”

The hype helped keep the fast-food brand trending. But not because the football fan, who was craving the spicy chicken snack, wanted the attention.

The next day, Don, the Twitter user who posted the original tweet, wrote, “I just want my spicy nugget, dassit.”

Chick-fil-A remains one of the top-ranking fast-food restaurants in the country, and has faced its share of controversy over the years. Much of the pushback against the company has not been race-related, but about its history of donating to organizations with anti-LGBTQ stances.

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