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bad news: store apologizes for green beer special in honor of st patrick's

by mg at 11:19 PM on February 07, 2002

BOSTON, Ma. (AP) -- A supermarket advertised a sale on corned beef and cabbage in honor of St Patrick’s Day, prompting the company to issue an apology after a customer complained.

Shaw’s Supermarket customer Seamus O’Brien brought the ad to the attention of the manager of the store in South Boston. The sign read: "In honor of St Patrick’s Day, we at Shaw’s are offering a special savings on corned beef and cabbage."

"I showed it to a few of the other customers ... and they all were stunned," O’Brien said. "When I approached the store manager about the problem he had the nerve to ask me why it offended me so much."

Shaw Supermarket apologized on Wednesday and said the sign was not meant to be offensive. "It did happen. It was at that one store only," said Denny Hopkins, Shaw’s vice president of advertising. "We had a customer bring the sign to us and complain and we immediately took it down."

Michael Quinlin, head of the Boston Irish Tourism Association, said the sign reinforces racist stereotypes. "Not all Irish-Americans eat cabbage, potatoes, and drink beer. We like salad, roast beef, low-fat chicken, just like everybody else," he said.

Shaw is sponsoring several programs for St Patrick’s Day, including having Black 47 perform, green beer, and celtic food samples at its Charlestown, and Dorchester stores, Hopkins said.

O’Brien said the sign wouldn't keep him from shopping at the store. "We laugh about it," he said. "How could they put something like that out there?"


comments (10)

Ha! I thought that was real . . . and I did wonder what was so offensive. Of course, I think there is a difference between fried chiken for Black History month and the aforementioned. Fried chicken is southern, and may well qualify as "soul food," but it has been used for many years as a sort of mis-en-scene caricature-ization of a certain stereotype of African Americans (kind of like watermelons.) I think the associations are different; it's like an "Uncle Tom" racist device, whereas corned beef and cabbage is very popular in Ireland, and thus authentically Irish. I suppose the parallel would be if the store offered traditional African foods for Black History month. I don't think that would be viewed as offensive, would it? The chicken, well, that's like a liquor store having a big sale sign with a passed-out leprechaun for St. Patricks Day - it reenforces stereotyope as opposed to celebrating culture.

by Charles at February 8, 2002 1:35 AM

I'm Irish and I didn't get it until I read the other article. I still think that it's stupid. People just like to bitch about something. Where's my Irish History Month, dammit?

by MrBlank at February 8, 2002 2:00 AM

The Chinese restaurants in my old neighborhood sold more fried chicken than all of the other things on the menu put together. I was friends with the cashier at one of those places, and we agreed that poor people eat unhealthy food everywhere; the specifc unhealthy food varies from place to place though.

by westernexposure at February 8, 2002 7:22 AM

This political correctiveness is getting a little bit too much, doncha think?

Whatever happen to eubonics?

by toxiclabrat at February 8, 2002 10:32 AM

Ebonics, like Esperanto, has left the building. Ebonics was an excuse for failing public school students. Yo, yo yo, homey, whassup? I kan't speeek Inglish rite so, G over there hooked me up wit dis new thang, see? Bah. Morons. On a lighter note, I did see a bottle of popcorn that was "The blackest thing to pop snow white." I shoulda had my camera with me.

by bri at February 8, 2002 10:34 AM

Please tell me we don't have a comparison of "African-American" people and true Africans. Saying soul-food isn't a black thing is like saying chinks don't eat noodles. Not a single one of my black co-workers eats 'traditional African' food on a regular basis. There's just not enough pounded yam to go around in midtown.

Yes. I'm equally offensive. And yes, I belong to one of the two groups I offended. I know black people! Some of my best friends are black! Really!

by bri at February 8, 2002 10:40 AM

Some of my best friends are Bri! Really!

by Tom at February 8, 2002 3:43 PM

We really must go drinking. What time are you off work? I'll be in mid-town.

by bri at February 8, 2002 4:40 PM

I don't think this is an example of political correctness run amuck. While it's by no means the most serious racial slight one could commit, I do think it's distasteful. There is a difference between perpetuating stereotypes of completely integrated ethnicity and one which is historically underpriviliged

And Ebonics is actually a perfectly legitimate branch of the english language, governed by expressible syntax and grammar. It even has inflections that American Standard English lost a long time ago. In fact, many linguists consider African Americans bilingual, which is more than I can say for myself.

by space at February 8, 2002 11:49 PM

Space, I will spare you the historical rant other than to say that, historically, the Irish were probably more economically opressed and discriminated against than any other group of voluntary immigrants.

As for Ebonics, there's an interesting debate that's been going on Hawaii for years concerning the local pidgin, and the status that it should have in schools and media. "None" is what I say - I don't understand how it benefits the republic to help linguistic balkanization along. But that's just me.

by westernexposure at February 10, 2002 8:50 AM

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