Note: To read the story of how an Iowa bar callously disrespected the legacy and the name of Martin Luther King Jr., please read the plain type. To read the story about how an Iowa bar came to its senses and apologized for its offensive, racist actions, follow the story in bold type.
As America celebrates the birth of one of its greatest civil rights icons, an Iowa bar decided it was a perfectly good idea to name a huge beer bash after Martin Luther King Jr, only reconsidering after considerable public outcry, proving that White America continues one of this country’s oldest traditions: “Trying it.”
As America celebrates the birth of one of its greatest civil rights icons, public outcry forced an Iowa bar to cancel a huge beer bash named after Martin Luther King Jr., proving that this country has made strides towards racial progress.
Cedar Falls, Iowa is one of the whitest places on earth. In 2018, Wall Street 24/7 named Cedar Falls as the worst city in America for African Americans. Its population is 91.3 percent white and 2.3 percent black (His name is Jerome and he’s “one of the good ones”). The black unemployment rate in the Cedar Falls-Waterloo area is 5 times the unemployment rates for whites. In 2016 someone spray-painted“Black Lives Matter” on a building on the University of Northern Iowa’s campus and no one was arrested, even though they probably knew who did it (We won’t snitch on you, Jerome).
Cedar Falls, Iowa is a progressive city and home to one of Iowa’s three public universities, the University of Northern Iowa. Because Cedar Falls has no need for black barbershops or seasoning stores, local watering holes like Deringer’s Public Parlor, a “true country bar,” offer a diverse range of entertainment options including a dude named Matt, that lady named Sierra Ann and, of course, everyone’s favorite, the Thrillbillies. While The Root couldn’t find a black face in the nearly 1,000 photos on Deringer’s Facebook page, we spoke to Jerome and he assured us that he has actually been to the bar. (To be fair, he was looking for the Seasoning Depot.)
One of Deringer’s most popular events (you should probably sit down for this one) is the annual beerfest held during the King Holiday weekend called “MLKegs.” Although the name might sound like an insult to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., Deringer’s probably figured: “So fucking what? It’s not like Jerome comes here anyway.” The event was well known in the Cedar Falls and University of Northern Iowa community as a day when white people whited as white as their whiteness allowed them to white.
One of Deringer’s most popular events (you should probably sit down for this one) is the annual beerfest held during the King Holiday weekend, which Deringer’s named MLKegs, not aware of the fact that it could be misconstrued as an insult to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. They even had their own Twitter account with 200 followers (I know what you’re wondering. No, Jerome wasn’t one of them)
Needless to say, Cedar Falls’ black community, including the students at UNI, were not too pleased with MLKegs day.
Well, a local activist who goes by the name of “Liberty Belle” noticed the Twitter feed and party announcements and decided to call the Wypipo watering hole out on what the civil rights activists of King’s era would probably describe as “fuckshit.”
And as you can see, Liberty Belle was not black, but she refused to accept Deringer’s whitesplaining of its racist tradition.
And guess what?
And guess what?
Afraid of how the negative media coverage and backlash might hurt its revenue, Deringer’s backed down!
Reflecting on how its use of one of America’s greatest heroes to sell beer might be a little unsavory and kinda racist, Deringer’s backed down! Well... kinda. They just changed the name of the party:
So, what does this prove?
Well, one of the reasons why racism persists is that white people refuse to speak up when blatant acts of discrimination occur. By definition, racists don’t give a fuck about black people. But the scorn, ridicule and possible financial penalties imposed by their fellow white might possibly serve as a deterrent.
Liberty Belle wasn’t acting as an “ally.” She was acting as a decent human being. That’s all anyone should ever ask.
And what does this prove?
In the 2018th year of our Lord and Savior Lupita Nyongo, there are still some white people who don’t know (or pretended not to understand) that holding an event like MLKegs was wrong until they were threatened. To be fair, Deringer’s management probably doesn’t hate black people or the MLK holiday. It is believable that the bar had “no attention of offending anyone” because the reality is: They probably weren’t trying to be mean to black people...
They just don’t give a fuck about black people.
That’s racism too. Anyone who even pretended to care about black people would have seen how insulting MLKegs was in the first place. But it’s like Martin Luther King, Jr. said when they threw rocks at marchers. Or maybe it was when they put him in a Birmingham jail cell...Or perhaps it was when he was stabbed in the heart:
“They keep trying it.”