At least six businesses in Austin, Texas, have been plastered with stickers reading “Exclusively For White People,” drawing condemnation from the state’s residents, lawmakers and NAACP representatives.
Facebook user Brianna Smith posted a photo Wednesday of a circular sticker on the outside of a display window at Rare Trends, an Austin clothing boutique in a historically black neighborhood. The sticker reads: “Exclusively For White People. Maximum of 5 colored customers. Colored BOH staff accepted. Sponsored by the City of Austin Contemporary Partition and Restoration Program.” (“BOH staff” refers to “back of house” workers, employees who do not usually interact with customers.) The sticker also features an official City of Austin logo.
“This just goes to show racism is very much alive TODAY,” Smith wrote underneath the photo. “This was a hate crime created by someone who had way to much [sic] time on their hands. This sticker has been unknowingly posted on many private owned business in Austin.”
In a statement Wednesday, Austin Mayor Steve Adler called the appearance of the stickers “an appalling and offensive display of ignorance in our city.”
“Our city is a place where respect for all people is a part of our spirit and soul,” Adler said. “We will keep it that way.”
Adler noted that the stickers’ use of the City of Austin logo was unauthorized. The city has no Contemporary Partition and Restoration Program.
“The stickers were neither produced nor knowingly displayed by the businesses and were removed by their employees when discovered this morning,” said Adler.
Rare Trends has denied any involvement in the incident and says it has been the victim of “an outrageous vandalism act.”
“Rare Trends does not or will never discriminate against any person regardless of their age, ethnicity or religious beliefs,” the company wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday.
Store employees did not see the sticker sooner because it was blocked by a display, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
The same sticker has reportedly been found on at least five other local businesses, including a bakeshop and a bicycle store. Austin police are investigating the situation.
State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin) reposted what appeared to be Smith’s photo on her own Facebook page Wednesday, and denounced those responsible for the “tasteless” act.
“Some jokes just are not funny. If this is a joke at all, it is tasteless,” Dukes wrote. “Pardon mon française mais, I will be damned if this will occur in my House District, district 46 on my watch on 12th St. in this historical Black Community or any community.”
Dukes said she has been in touch with city managers and officials. In her Facebook post, she called for readers to boycott Rare Trends “until ‘some explaining’ is done.”
“If the explanation is unbelievable,” she wrote, “they need to be put out of business, ASAP!”
Some have suggested that the stickers are meant to be a comment on white gentrification. But others say it seems like something uglier.
“I’m waiting for the facts on it — who, what, where. It kind of sounds like some fraternity prank to me. But doing something like that is not funny at all,” former state Rep. Gonzalo Barrientos (D-Austin) told The Huffington Post. “Institutional racism is what it points to.”
HuffPost’s Roque Planas contributed to this report.
Source: Huff Post