Credit: Richard Harbus for New York Daily News

Credit: Richard Harbus for New York Daily News

There doesn’t seem to be a shortage in the news items that pertain to the uncomfortably rife world of racism.

This time the culprit is New York City’s Heartland Brewery. Heartland like most retailers in the same genre, offer a specialized seasonal concoction.

This year, the brew of choice is ‘Bavarian Black Lager’ that sounds pretty scrumptious if you are into that kind of thing. The issue isn’t whether it taste good enough to keep you coming back for more – it’s the assigned slogan that has everyone crying foul.

The drink is presented in a glass with the phrase “you’ll be a slave to the flavor” engraved on it. Considering the current racial climate, it should come as no surprise to Heartland Brewery that their choice of word wouldn’t resonate in the manner that they had anticipated. Kirsten John Foy, who is affiliated with the National Action Network, acknowledged that the promotional phrase was definitely a bad call, by calling the slogan “absolutely inappropriate, offensive, and intentionally provocative”. “At a time when race relations are at the heart of the national and local discourse, Heartland Brewery has decided to evoke the pain and trauma of our nation’s shameful and hateful legacy and use it as a cheap marketing ploy”.

The glass has an image of what appears to be a dominatrix with her “client” which doesn’t really evoke the notion of slavery in it’s historical context. Joe Bloostein, owns Heartland Brewery was also quick to dismiss the idea of bigotry in the tone of the slogan they chose to use, saying that the word “slave” “clearly refers” to the demonstrated S&M skit on the glass. He goes on to explain “Connecting the world ‘black’ in Bavarian Black Lager to black people is incredibly farfetched”. “Alleging any connection to racism is ridiculous”.

That might very well be the case, but again, tensions are high and people are generally not able to accommodate anything that slightly conjures the image of slavery in any form. It might be best to stay away any of those references indefinitely.

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