A Melbourne restaurant has been criticised for its interior décor, which features a photoshopped mural of late rapper Biggie Smalls holding a fried chicken drumstick and wallpaper depicting white families with guns.
Stand-up comedian Aamer Rahman has criticised the Brunswick eatery which specialises in fried chicken, buttermilk waffles and burgers.
"Today in gentrification: Melbourne hipsters pay tribute to a dead black artist by opening a Biggie Smalls themed fried chicken restaurant,” he said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
Rahman’s post has already received over 750 likes and over 570 shares on Facebook, while some people also expressed their opinions on the restaurant's Facebook page.
The owners of FAT Fried and Tasty have defended their decorating choice, explaining that the reason they ioncluded the photoshopped image of Biggie Smalls is because they are fans of his.
“This is not the first time we have received criticism over the décor,” they told The Huffington Post Australia.
“Although we received negative feedback we also received positive responses with people liking the fact that we have Biggie Smalls on the wall as they clearly share the love that we have.
“We are definitely not insensitive to the fact that we may have offended some people but that was never our intention, the simple explanation as to why we depict Biggie Smalls in our restaurant is for the simple fact that we are big fans, even though it was used as a mural on our wall it was never intended to be racist.”
The pair also denied perpetuating the stereotypes that exist in relation to African Americans and fried chicken.
“In regards to people thinking it's racist, we are not trying to associate African Americans with fried chicken, instead we are associating Biggie Smalls with our restaurant,” they said.
“To illustrate this further, there is a restaurant called Biggie Smalls in Melbourne who specialise in kebabs, they like us have showcased their love for Biggie. They also have murals and pictures all over their walls. The only difference is he is not holding a kebab.”
Comedian and blogger Franchesca Ramsey has previously explained why stereotypes surrounding African Americans and fried chicken are racist in a three-minute video on MTV News’ YouTube channel.
“From the late 1800s onward, fried chicken was used to portray black people as savages,” she said in the video.
“Films like Birth of a Nation, and Jim Crow imagery seen in cartoons, postcards and ads featured black people as rowdy barbaric slaves gleefully eating chicken with their bare hands. Fried chicken became the go-to way to make black people look like animals.”
Ramsey does goes on to stress however, that foods like fried chicken can still be enjoyed but it is when they are linked to certain demographics that issues of racism come into play.
“When you automatically link fried chicken and watermelon with black people you’re bringing all of that baggage along with it,” she said.