A café owner in England has gone to drastic measures to “warn” racist customers that her business is run by a black woman.
The sign, typed in all caps, tells customers:
“Attention! Everyone be aware I am a black woman, and always will be. If you are allergic to black people, don’t come in.
But, if you prefer quality wholesome meals in a pleasant and clean environment, come in. I don’t bite.”
Martha-Renee Kolleh, who owns Yeanon Café in Ossett, West Yorshire says she put up the sign up because she was tired of customers walking out once they realized her Afro-Caribbean café, which also serves traditional British fare, was run by a black woman.
“I was so cross that people kept walking into the café and then walking out so I made the sign,” Kolleh explained. “I wanted to vent my frustration and have people take notice.”
Kolleh has been in business for two years, but says she may have to close if customers in her town (which is 97.5% white) continue to sidestep her shop.
To boost her bottom line, the mother of three even hired a white woman to man the shop, and hopefully pull in customers, but noticed that when her employee wasn’t there, customers do not stop in.
“I thought I was being paranoid so I hired a lady, who is white. I let her stand and serve people while I waited out the back. She did very well and we had a lot of customers, but as soon as I was back behind the counter, nobody comes in.”
According to The Independent, Kolleh’s sign has elicited mixed reviews. Some find it amusing, while others see it as offensive.
“Some people find the sign amusing and they say ‘oh yes it’s about time you put that up’, so I think they all realise what’s going on here.
“Some others just read it and walk away. I’ve heard one or two swearwords as well regarding the notice,” she told the paper.
Officials in the town of Ossett said they are working to support Kolleh and do not condone racism.
Since Kolleh’s story made news, her café’s Facebook page has been flooded with support. One resident commented: “Beautiful talented lady, please go on providing some of the most delicious food in the world! God bless you and may you and your business flourish.”
Kolleh hopes all of the attention will help her struggling business.
“This is my livelihood, which I need to support myself and my children”, she told a local news affiliate. “If my business does not improve I will have to pack up in just a number of months. I am a qualified chef, and if I worked anywhere else I would be lost. I am here to cook and I am good at it so it’s such a shame people won’t come in here.”