Kansas City Black Restaurant Week a cultural celebration — not a reason to cry racism

Kansas City celebrates inaugural Black Restaurant Week

Eight black-owned restaurants are being highlighted this week in the inaugural Kansas City Black Restaurant Week.
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Eight black-owned restaurants are being highlighted this week in the inaugural Kansas City Black Restaurant Week.

The aim of Kansas City Black Restaurant Week is simple and praiseworthy: Offer dining deals to attract new customers and spotlight culinary gems that too often are overlooked in the local dining landscape.

Eight black-owned restaurants, many of which don’t have the resources to advertise to a broader audience, are participating in the inaugural event this week. They’re offering an enticing range of daily specials through Sunday.

The concept is part of a growing national trend to spotlight restaurants owned by African American entrepreneurs.

“We focus on black, but it’s not about that,” said organizer Marquez Beasley of Creative Cities KC. “It’s about bringing a culture together so everybody can taste our food and see how our culture really does things.”

Convening Kansas Citians to break bread and boost a good cause should be commended. In a town known for its entrepreneurial spirit, Black Restaurant Week should be a cultural celebration for local foodies.

“We’ve got to be able to support each other,” said Tandrea Spriggs of Kansas City, who stopped by Bayou on the Vine this week for a brunch special of chicken and waffles. “And put the dollars back in our own neighborhoods.”

Sadly and somewhat predictably, the mere existence of Black Restaurant Week has prompted reflexive complaints about racism, as critics in search of a cause have cried foul, suggesting that somehow the effort to showcase the culture and heritage of these local businesses is an affront to us all.

“Talk about promoting racism, doesent (sic) get any more obvious than that,” one person wrote online. “The people who are always yelling racism are the ones who promote it! They would raise holy hell if white only resturants where (sic) promoted.”

“Racism at its best,” wrote another person. “Celebrate all or celebrate none.”

Simply referencing race does not equate to racism.

And those who have decried this effort to support local businesses and celebrate African American culture and cuisine are carpers just girding for a fight. For the rest of us, shrimp and grits, chicken fritters and mac and cheese are among the too-good-to-pass-up specials that will be on the menu this weekend.

Kansas City does a fine job of celebrating an array of ethnic cultures. And each January, Visit KC organizes KC Restaurant Week, which includes a long list of local eateries.

Why not support black restaurant owners this week — and beyond?

Kansas City Black Restaurant Week is a cultural celebration — not a reason to complain about racism. Enjoy a good time and a good meal.

Promoter Joshua Lewis hosts the weekly Whiskey Wine and Wings happy hour at Dempsey's Burger Pub, one of the few events marketed toward black millennials.