The Reconciliatory Powers of BBQ

The Hispanic owner of a restaurant in Colorado decided to offer a discount to white customers for "White Appreciation Day." Is this a good idea?

By Robert Moeller Published on June 6, 2015

Americans now associate racial tension with places like Ferguson and Baltimore, but what about Milliken, Colorado?

From USA Today:

The Hispanic owners of a barbecue restaurant in Milliken say they plan to host a “White Appreciation Day” next month.

What started as a joke is now on the calendar. Edgar Antillon and Miguel Jimenez recently purchased Rubbin Buttz BBQ on Broad Street. On June 11, they plan to offer a 10% discount to all white customers and no one else.

“We have a whole month for Black History Month,” Antillon said. “We have a whole month for Hispanic heritage month, so we thought the least we could do was offer one day to appreciate white Americans.”

That loud popping sound you just heard was Rev. Al Sharpton’s head exploding.

The article continues: “It’s a perpetuation of racism,” said Ricardo Romero, a civil rights activist and community organizer in Weld County. “It’s wrong, if you’re going to give a discount, give it to the whole community.”

So what are the rest of us to think about Edgar Antillion’s decision? Does the fact that Antillion and his business partner are Hispanic rather than Anglo even matter? And does it even matter that Antillon later informed CNN that “any American — white, black, Asian or Hispanic — who visits Rubbin’ Buttz on June 11 will be offered the same 10% discount”?

Most important of all: is their BBQ any good?

Seriously, can anyone confirm if Rubbin Buttz is worth a trip next time I’m in the greater Denver area?

You might think that I am joking, but you would be wrong. And even if I were just kidding around, what would be the problem with that? The fact that no one in this country feels like they can so much as chuckle when they hear something as silly as a “White Appreciation Day” tells you everything you need to know about the “state of race relations” in 2015. The illusory promise that voting for Barack Obama would fix things has proven false, and we are left with a splintered society whose primary means of interacting with one another involve finger pointing, riots and lawsuits.

There could be legal repercussions as well, according to Jennifer McPherson of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies.

“If someone felt like they were being discriminated against, they could come to the civil rights division and file a complaint in our office and we would investigate that,” said McPherson.

And it is here that the merry-go-round of identity politics and grievance-mongering can make one sick in a hurry. Two Hispanic small business owners decide to temporarily offer “white people” — a term loosely defined — a discount at their BBQ joint and the first thing anyone can think to do is to file a legal complaint.

In humanity’s need to feel our lives have purpose and meaning, and with the decline of things like strong family units and involvement in local religious institutions, Americans have filled those critically important voids in their hearts and minds with stuff that simply isn’t important. Or at the very least, we’ve mis-prioritized the things that ought to be more important than the discount policy of your neighborhood BBQ restaurant.

If everyone wanted to solve racial issues tomorrow, we could. But I do not think that many who speak the loudest and who carry the most cultural weight are serious about it. Mr. Romero, the civil rights activist quoted earlier, said that the goal should be that all things apply equally to all groups of people. My guess, however, is that Mr. Romero would be less than thrilled if I started a campaign to do away with Black or Latino Appreciation Month. And I’m also guessing that he and his fellow activists would not be so ready with a quote in the newspaper had this entire matter centered on a restaurant owner giving discounts to Mongolian or Russian customers only.

There are real racial problems in the country. It is heart breaking to watch what happened in Baltimore and realize that many people feel that their only way to communicate their legitimate frustrations is through violence. But that is all the more reason why we cannot continue to let ourselves get bogged down by the mentality of victimhood at every turn. Not all outrages are outrageous enough to warrant legal action.

Antillon says the discount isn’t meant to discriminate, but instead bring people together. He added that he has been the target of racism in the past. He hopes opening up the discussion will prompt others to think differently about race.

“We’re all American, whether you came from a different country or you were born here,” Antillon said. “We’re all American.”

Since we need to have a dialogue about race, can we at least conduct it over some brisket?

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